President Donald Trump, during a rare press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the results of the midterm elections, claimed victory for his Republican Party despite “very hostile media coverage, to put it mildly.”
A frequent critic of the press, Trump said, “The media coverage set a new record and a new standard.”
He lashed out at reporters during the question-and-answer portion of the press conference.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump told CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta after the reporter tried to ask a second question.
Trump continued his attack: “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 Sanders is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
As Acosta moved to ask another question, after asking about Trump’s demonization of immigrants, the president said: “That’s enough. That’s enough. Excuse me, that’s enough. Put down the mic.”
At one point, Trump told Acosta, “Honestly, let me run the country. You run CNN.”
When Acosta first stood up to ask his question, Trump readied for the fight, saying, “Here we go. Let’s go. Come on.”
He attacked CNN more broadly, saying, “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”
After the press conference ended, CNN released a statement responding to the president’s attacks on the network and Acosta: “This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”
Trump also lashed out at another frequent White House foe, reporter April Ryan, preventing her from asking a question.
Trump accused Yamiche Alcindor, an African-American White House correspondent for PBS Newshour, of asking a “racist” question.
The president said that Republican candidates achieved victory despite Democratic support from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, who endorsed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams. Trump said he likes Winfrey, but added, “I don’t know if she likes me anymore.”
In his comments, Trump called out and mocked Republican candidates who kept their distance from him and lost their elections Tuesday night.
Later in the day, the White House revoked press credentials for Acosta because, as Sanders said in a statement, “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration. 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.”
CNN fired back in its own statement that the decision was a “threat to our democracy” and that Sander’s accusations were “fraudulent.”
In a statement about that decision on Wednesday night, the White House Correspondents’ Association wrote, “The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly objects to the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship. Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable.”
The Association continued, “We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action. We encourage anyone with doubts that this reaction was disproportionate to the perceived offense to view the video of the events from earlier today.”
Later Wednesday night, Sanders shared a slowed-down C-SPAN clip of the incident between Acosta and the intern, tweeting, “We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”
Wednesday’s press conference was another data point in the White House’s long-running battle with CNN and with Acosta, who frequently jousts with Sanders in the brief briefing room.
Nov. 7, 7:48 p.m. Updated with Sanders’ tweet.