WASHINGTON — The White House cited CNN’s Jim Acosta “placing his hands on a young woman” as the reason for pulling his credentials, referring to an intern who was trying to take a microphone away from him as he persisted in trying to ask a question of President Donald Trump.
Now Trump suggests that reporters will risk their credentials if they do not treat the White House and the presidency with “respect.”
As he was heading off to Paris, Trump stopped to talk to reporters and was asked how long Acosta’s pass would be revoked.
“As far as I am concerned, I haven’t made that decision. But it could be others also,” he said. “When you are in the White House, this is a very sacred place to me, a very special place. You have to treat the White House with respect, you have to treat the presidency with respect.”
Trump didn’t say what he means by “respect” — but by the end of the press availability, it was pretty clear that it was for reasons other than security. He expressed annoyance at the types of questions that are asked, the way that they are asked, and what reporters have said about him, i.e. their type of coverage.
Acosta calls the White House claim a “lie,” and video of the incident on Wednesday shows that he only touched the intern on her arm as she tried to grab the microphone from him. “Pardon me ma’am,” he said. The White House Correspondents’ Association and other journalism groups have backed him up, not to mention CNN.
If by “respect” Trump means the type of questions that are asked and the way they are asked, the White House is on shaky legal footing. Ted Boutrous, attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, cites the 1977 D.C. Circuit decision in the case Sherrill v. Knight, which held “access not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons.”
In his press availability, Trump also went after April Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks, as someone who did not show respect.
“You talk about somebody that’s a loser,” he said. “She doesn’t know what the hell she is doing. She’s gets publicity, and then she gets a pay raise and a contract with I think CNN. But she is very nasty and she shouldn’t be. You have got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect.”
Trump also berated another CNN reporter, Abby Phillip, for asking what he called a “stupid question.” “I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.” She had tried to ask him whether he wanted acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to rein in Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
CNN responded with a statement. “Abby Phillip did not ask a ‘stupid’ question today at the White House. In fact, she asked the most pertinent question of the day. [President Trump’s] personal insults are nothing new. And never surprising.”
Ryan responded on Twitter, “I love this country and have the most respect for the Office of the President. I will continue to ask the questions that affect America, all of America.”
Acosta, meanwhile, is in Paris, where Trump will be landing later on Friday.