Trump calls CNN reporter a 'rude, terrible person' during explosive press conference

  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at a CNN reporter during a televised press conference, saying the journalist was a "rude, terrible person."
  • "You're a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible," the president said to Jim Acosta, the network's chief White House correspondent.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out against a CNN reporter during a televised press conference, saying the journalist was a "rude, terrible person."

"You're a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible," the president said to Jim Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent.

The president was reacting to questions about statements he's made regarding the migrant caravan from Central America, as well as about the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

"I'm not concerned about anything with the Russia investigation because it's a hoax," the president said. "That's enough, put down the mic."

A White House aide at one point tried to wrench the mic from Acota's hand.

The president asserted later in the briefing that he could have ended Mueller's investigation "any time I wanted."

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

The president was speaking to reporters at the White House following a day of mixed results for the president's party in the midterm elections. Democrats flipped the House of Representatives, while Republicans extended their majority in the Senate.

The president also targeted NBC News reporter Peter Alexander on Wednesday, telling him that "you are indeed unleashing crime."

After Alexander described Acosta as a "diligent reporter," Trump told him, "I'm not a big fan of yours either."

NBC and CNBC are owned by NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast.

CNN, in a statement about Trump's criticism of Acosta, said, "This President's ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far."

"They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American," CNN said. "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."

In response, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement: "Contrary to CNN's assertions, there is no greater demonstration of the President's support for a free press than the event he held today. Only they would attack the President for not being supportive of a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of an hour and a half — including several from the reporter in question."

"The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it is an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration. As a result of today's incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice," the statement said.

Acosta confirmed in a tweet that he was denied entry to the White House.

The president has faced criticism for his attacks on the press and has repeatedly referred to the media as an enemy. Critics have accused the president of promoting violence against journalists. That criticism escalated last month when CNN's New York headquarters was evacuated after an apparent pipe bomb was sent to the Manhattan building. Bombs were also sent to prominent Democrats who Trump has criticized.

The suspect in the case, Cesar Sayoc, posted pro-Trump messages on his social media pages. Trump has called Sayoc "insane" and said he is not responsible for the actions of his supporters.

Trump and his supporters accuse mainstream media outlets such as CNN and NBC of treating conservatives unfairly.

Later in the briefing, Trump said he "would love to see unity, including with the media" but complained about coverage of his administration. "I could do something that's fantastic, and they'll make it look not good."

Watch: President Trump and CNN's Jim Acosta have heated exchange