Tonight, in a major break with normal government protocol, the White House announced it would suspend CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s hard press pass. The announcement came after Acosta and the president exchanged tense words in this morning’s post-election press briefing. During the exchange, Trump called Acosta a “rude, terrible person.”
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement that Acosta’s hard pass was to be revoked, citing an interaction between him and a White House aide, who Sanders alleged that Acosta “plac[ed] his hands on”.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sanders said in her 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.”
Around the same time, Acosta attempted to enter the White House and was rebuffed.
“I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH,” Acosta tweeted. “Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit.”
Acosta posted a video of a Secret Service officer removing his pass.
“I was just told to do it,” the officer said on the recording.
“I am now giving my hard pass to the Secret Service,” Acosta said.
A CNN producer denied that the interaction happened the way Sanders described it. “This is a complete lie,” CNN producer Allie Malloy said on Twitter. “The woman grabbed Jim’s arm repeatedly. He never once touched her. In fact at one point @Acosta tells her politely ‘pardon me, mam’ as she’s yanking on his arm.”
Acosta also tweeted that Sanders’ description of the event was a “lie.”
White House reporters are given hard passes make their entry into the office every day easier. It’s unclear whether Acosta will be permitted to return to the White House briefing room with some other type of pass, or whether he is permanently banned.