Trump Argues With CNN’s Acosta at Heated News Conference

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump engaged in one of his most direct confrontations with a reporter, arguing with CNN’s Jim Acosta at a news conference on Tuesday and calling him rude.

Trump invited Acosta, a frequent foil, to ask him a question at the White House news conference, which followed his party’s loss of control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Trump Argues With CNN’s Acosta at Heated News Conference

Acosta questioned him about his rhetoric on immigration during the campaign and his deployment of troops to the U.S. border with Mexico purportedly to stop a so-called “caravan” of migrants. Trump’s critics have called the deployment a political stunt.

The back-and-forth between Trump and Acosta quickly grew heated after the reporter challenged Trump’s characterization of the caravan as an “invasion” and asked why the president had “demonized” immigrants in a widely criticized ad rejected by networks. Trump told Acosta that he should “let me run the country” and Acosta should “run CNN.”

When Acosta tried to ask further questions, Trump became angry, demanding that the reporter sit down and give up the microphone. Acosta refused. Trump backed away from his podium and briefly paced the stage.

“I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Trump said. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible,” he said, referring to his press secretary. “And the way you treat other people is horrible.”

CNN said in a statement after the exchange that “this president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far.”

“They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” the network said. “While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it.’

Acosta wasn’t the only reporter with whom the president sparred. The next questioner, NBC reporter Peter Alexander, defended his CNN colleague as a diligent reporter.

“Well, I’m not a big fan of yours, either, to be honest. You aren’t the best,” Trump told Alexander.

“Just sit down please,” he said to Acosta, who tried to ask another question.

“When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people,” Trump said.

Later, he criticized PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor for asking a “racist question.” Alcindor, who is black, asked whether Trump thought his declaration during the campaign that he’s a “nationalist” had emboldened white supremacists, who are also called “white nationalists.”

“Such a racist question,” Trump complained, adding that he found it “insulting.”

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