Acosta Told Court Under Penalty of Perjury That He ‘Politely’ Questioned Trump

By Staff | November 19, 2018 | 4:40pm EST
CNN's Jim Acosta and White House intern both grapple with microphone, Nov. 7, 2018. (Screen Capture/CSPAN)

( - Jim Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week, in a written declaration delivered under penalty of perjury, that he “politely” questioned President Donald Trump at a November 7 press conference.

Acosta submitted the sworn declaration, which is dated Nov. 13, as part of the lawsuit he and CNN have brought against President Trump, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and other White House officials for revoking his White House reporter’s “hard pass.”

“I, Abilio James Acosta, hereby declare under penalty of perjury the following,” Acosta said in the first sentence of the written declaration he made to the court.

In the fifteenth paragraph of that sworn declaration Acosta explained how he “politely” questioned President Trump. That paragraph states:

“During the November 7 press conference, I had two questions I wanted to ask the President, about the migrant caravan and the Russia investigation. I raised my hand was called on by the President as had happened many times before. As the C-SPAN video of this press conference accurately reflects, the President repeatedly interrupted me, and I firmly but politely persisted in asking my two questions and trying to get responses. The President apparently did not like my questions, however, as he did not respond to them and ultimately directed me to stop talking. In other words, it was a typical presidential press conference. Indeed, the only thing unusual about this press conference was that at one point a White House intern approached me and attempted to physically remove the microphone from my right hand. The C-SPAN video accurately depicts what happened. As it shows, I held onto the microphone, stated ‘Pardon me, ma’am,’ and continued asking the President my questions. As eyewitnesses have noted, and as the video clearly demonstrates, the White House’s contention that I ‘plac[ed] my hands on’ the intern is false. In my time as a White House correspondent, I have not seen or experienced a White House intern trying to physically remove a microphone from a reporter’s hand. I interpreted the intern’s unprecedented actions as an expression of the President’s dissatisfaction with the topics of my questions.”

Acosta’s declaration includes a footnote specifically citing C-SPAN’s online video of the Nov. 7 press conference as a source that “accurately reflects” the exchange in which he “politely persists” in asking two questions of the president.

The video clip embedded above is taken from that CSPAN video. It shows that after Acosta has finally surrendered the microphone to the intern he initially refused to give it to—and she gives it to reporter Peter Alexander of NBC News—Acosta rises again and interrupts the president and Alexander (who has just defended him).

In this second exchange that Acosta had with the president at that press conference, it is difficult to hear what he is saying because his colleague, Alexander, has the microphone.

Here is a transcript of the part of that Nov. 7 press conference where Acosta interacted with the president:

Reporter: Well, since it's Jim, I'll let it go.

Jim Acosta: Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign in the midterms, that this--

President Donald Trump: Here we go.

Acosta: Well, if you don't mind, Mr. President--

Trump: Let's go. Let's go. Come on.

Acosta: That this caravan was an ‘invasion.’ As you know, Mr. President --

Trump: I consider it to be an invasion.

Acosta: As you know, Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion. It's a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.

Trump: Thank you for telling me that. I appreciate it.

Acosta: And why did you characterize it as such? And--

Trump: Because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.

Acosta: But do you think that you demonized immigrants—

Trump: Not at all.

Acosta: ---in this election--

Trump: No, not at all.

Acosta: --to try to keep--

Trump: I want them. I want them to come into the country, but they have to come in legally. You know, they have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process. And I want people to come in. And we need the people.

Acosta: Right. But your campaign, your campaign --

Trump: Wait. Wait. Wait. You know why we need the people, don't you? Because we have hundreds of companies moving in. We need the people.

Acosta: But your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on.

Trump: Well that’s true. They weren’t actors.

Acosta: They're not going to be doing that.

Trump: They weren’t actors. Well, no, it was true. Do you think they were actors? They weren't actors. They didn't come from Hollywood. These were--These were people, this was an actual, you know, it happened a few days ago. And--

Acosta: They're hundreds of miles of way though. They're hundreds and hundreds of miles away.

Trump: You know what?

Acosta: That's not an invasion.

Trump: I think you should, honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN and--

Acosta: All right.

Trump: --and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.

Acosta: But let me ask, if I may ask one other question, Mr. President--

Trump: Okay, that's enough. Okay, Peter, go ahead.

Acosta: Mr. President, if I may, if I may ask one other question. Are you worried --

Trump: That's enough. That's enough. That's enough.

Acosta: Mr. President, well, I was going to ask one other. The other folks have had—

[At this point a White House intern attempts to take the microphone from Acosta’s right hand and he refuses to yield it, briefly putting his left hand around it in his attempt to keep it. She gives up trying to take it.]

Trump: That's enough. That's enough.

Acosta: Pardon me, ma'am, I'm--Mr. President --

Trump: Excuse me, that's enough.

Acosta: Mr. President, I had one other question if I may--

Trump: Peter. Let's go.

Acosta: --ask on the Russia investigation. Are you concerned that you may have indictments--

Trump: I'm not concerned about anything with the Russia investigation because it's a hoax.

Acosta: -- that you may indictments coming down? Are you --

Trump: That's enough. Put down the mic.

Acosta: Mr. President, are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation?

[Trump walks away from the podium.]

Reporters: [Reporters making statements aloud from around the room.]

Trump: 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. Go ahead.

Peter Alexander of NBC: I think that's unfair.

Trump to Acosta: 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. Go ahead. Go ahead, Peter. Go ahead.

Alexander: In Jim's defense, I've traveled with him and watched him. He's a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.

Trump: Well, I'm not a big fan of yours either. So, you know.

Alexander: I understand.

Trump: To be honest with you.

Alexander: So let me ask you a question if I can. You repeatedly said--

Trump: You aren't--you aren't the best.

[Acosta stands up and starts speaking at the president without the microphone and without being recognized.]

Alexander: Mr. President, you repeatedly said—

Trump to Acosta: Okay, just sit down, please.

[Acosta continues speaking at the president.]

Trump: Well, when you report fake news--No. When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people. [To Alexander:] Go ahead.

Alexander: Mr. President, over the course of the last several days of the campaign, sir…

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