By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) – The White House revoked CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass Wednesday "until further notice".
The move came hours after Acosta had a heated exchange with U.S. President Donald Trump during a White House press conference on the midterm elections.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person and you shouldn’t be working for them,” Trump told Acosta after he asked a question about a migrant caravan headed to the U.S. southern border through Mexico.
After Trump repeatedly told Acosta to sit down, a female White House intern attempted to take the microphone from Acosta, who initially refused to relinquish it. He was later accused of placing his hands on the woman during the brief encounter.
"I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit," Acosta wrote on Twitter.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders defended the move to revoke Acosta’s access.
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.”
Acosta later tweeted that the White House's statement was a "lie."
In a statement, the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) called the revocation of Acosta's access "unacceptable".
"Journalists may use a range of approaches to carry out their jobs and the WHCA does not police the tone or frequency of the questions its members ask of powerful senior government officials, including the President," the association said.
"Such interactions, however uncomfortable they may appear to be, help define the strength of our national institutions. We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action."
In a statement posted on Twitter, CNN also rejected Sanders' statement, saying the revocation of Acosta's access "was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference".
"Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied," it said. "This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support."
Sanders responded on Twitter, reinforcing her previous statement.
"We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass.
"We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video," she wrote, referring to a slow-motion replay of the incident.