White House pulls CNN's Jim Acosta's pass after contentious news conference
(CNN) -- In a stunning break with protocol, the White House said Wednesday night that it's suspending CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's hard pass "until further notice."
The move came just hours after Acosta drew the ire of President Trump and his allies by asking multiple questions at a post-midterms news conference. Trump insulted Acosta and called him a "terrible" person.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement that Acosta would be stripped of what's known as a "hard pass," which gives him access to the White House grounds.
Around the same time, Acosta was stopped at the White House's Pennsylvania Avenue gate where reporters usually enter. He was heading back to the White House for a live shot on "Anderson Cooper 360."
"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.
Reporters who regularly cover the White House are routinely granted "hard passes" to ease entry and exit to the White House grounds. It is unclear whether Acosta will be granted some other sort of entry pass for his work. But on Wednesday night, he was turned away at the gate.
Wednesday's action by the White House is a sharp escalation of tensions between the Trump administration and CNN. It immediately stirred concerns within the White House press corps.
Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, said on Twitter, "This is something I've never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning."
The White House Corespondents Association, which advocates on behalf of the press corps, is expected to issue a statement later on Wednesday night.
CNN is also expected to release a statement about the incident.
Acosta has been one of the most aggressive reporters on the White House beat, winning him huge numbers of fans but also huge numbers of critics.
On Wednesday afternoon pro-Trump media outlets were full of stories alleging that Acosta had mistreated the White House aide who tried to take a microphone away from him at the press conference.
Sanders repeated this assertion in her statement.
"President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration," she said. "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."
CNN producer Allie Malloy responded to Sanders via Twitter: "This is a complete lie. 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 incident was a "lie."
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