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White House suspends press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta after testy exchange with Trump

President Trump argues with CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a news conference in the White House on Wednesday. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Al Drago

WASHINGTON • The White House has suspended the press pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta after President Donald Trump took issue with questions Acosta asked at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

At the event, Trump snapped at Acosta after he asked why the president called the Central American migrant caravan "an invasion" and "demonized immigrants." Following a lengthy and tense verbal back-and-forth, a female White House intern attempted to take the microphone away from Acosta.

Acosta held onto it and at one point told the woman, "Pardon me, ma'am."

On Wednesday night, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman" and said it was on those grounds Acosta's press pass was being suspended "until further notice."

"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."

On Twitter, Acosta responded to Sanders' statement with, simply: "This is a lie."

After their exchange at the press conference, Trump told Acosta: "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."

NBC News reporter Peter Alexander tried to stand up for Acosta, saying he is a "diligent reporter." Trump responded: "Well, I'm not a big fan of yours, either."

CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Washington Post's Lindsey Bever contributed to this report.