The White House suspended the press credentials for CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday, citing Acosta's brief confrontation with a White House press aide during a wild news conference given by President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
The CNN reporter's pass has been suspected "until further notice" according to a release from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
"President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration," Sanders said in a statement. "We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question."
Acosta posted video of a U.S. Secret Service agent asking for his "hard pass," which enables a journalist to enter the White House grounds.
The move to punish Acosta by removing his press pass is believed to be unprecedented.
During the 90-minute presser at the White House, Trump got into a testy exchange with Acosta after the journalist asked him a question about whether the president had "demonized immigrants" by using the word "invasion" to describe the migrant caravan coming to the United States.
Acosta refused to pass the microphone to another reporter when asked by Trump, leading the president to call the reporter "a very bad person."
"CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. And the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way," the president said to the CNN reporter on Wednesday.
Sanders accused Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman" citing those grounds that his press pass was being suspended.
During an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, Acosta pointed to video of the incident, saying he was "just trying to ask a question of the president."
"I didn’t put my hands on her or touch her, as the White House is alleging," Acosta said. "I do think, Anderson, that this is a test for all of us. I think they’re trying to shut us down. I think they’re trying to send a message to my colleagues."
In a statement issued Wednesday, CNN released video of the interaction along with a statement accusing the White House retaliating against Acosta because of his questions to the president.
"In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied," the network wrote. "She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support."