The White House on Wednesday suspended the press pass of a CNN reporter, Jim Acosta for verbally sparring with President Donald Trump during a news conference in which the US president branded the journalist an enemy of the people.

A visibly angry Trump had called Acosta a ‘rude, terrible person’ after the CNN White House correspondent refused the president’s orders to sit down and give up the microphone during the conference one day after the US midterm vote.

“The White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice. President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration,” Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman said hours later, referring to Acosta.

“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. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable,” she added.

The heated exchange began after the prominent journalist clung to the microphone and persisted with questions about the president’s views on a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the US border.

At that point, Trump said ‘That’s enough!’ and a female White House intern unsuccessfully tried to take the microphone from the journalist.

Acosta however shot back at the accusation of misconduct, tweeting that they were all lies. This is even as his network and a number of Washington journalists who had been at the press conference voiced support for him.

A statement issued by CNN on Wednesday night said Sanders lied, maintaining that Acosta’s press pass suspension was done in ‘retaliation for challenging questions’.