Sarah Sanders Accused of Sharing Doctored Video to Defend White House Ban of CNN's Jim Acosta
Many social media users have accused Sarah Huckabee Sanders of sharing a doctored video that appeared to bolster her claim that reporter Jim Acosta had "put hands on" an intern
Following the incident, the White House press secretary justified the decision by falsely claiming that Acosta had “put hands on” a female White House intern as she tried to take the microphone away from him. Acosta has denied this on Twitter writing, “This is a lie.”
In her statement, Sanders said: “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.”
She went on to share the allegedly altered video, which repeatedly shows the moment Acosta and the White House intern came into contact with each other.
Unlike raw footage of the incident, the video contains no audio and replays a slow motion version of the incident.
As some Twitter users have pointed out, the speed of the footage also seems to have been altered, making the moment Acosta’s hand briefly came in contact with the intern’s arm appear more aggressive than it does in the unedited footage that has been shared by numerous media outlets, including CNN.
As New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman pointed out on social media, in the raw footage, Acosta can also be heard saying, “Pardon me, ma’am,” after the contact occurred.
“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass,” Sanders wrote alongside the clip. “We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”
She stood by the decision again on Thursday, according to a pool report, telling reporters, “The question is: did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”
Numerous Twitter users also pointed out that the video appeared to have been shared online earlier by an editor at Infowars, a website that has trafficked in conspiracy theories on various topics over the years, including the Sandy Hook massacre.
The Infowars editor has since denied that the video has been doctored, arguing that, “I merely zoomed in.”
During the press conference on Wednesday, in which Trump spoke on the results of the midterm elections, Acosta asked about the migrant caravan of nearly 4,000 Central Americans, who are walking through Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S.
In response — as captured by C-SPAN — Trump began, “Here we go.”
Acosta then asked the president if calling the caravan an “invasion” negatively characterized immigrants, to which Trump answered that he wanted them to “come in legally.”
Refusing to give up his microphone, Acosta pressed on, interrogating the president about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s potential indictments resulting from his investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The White House intern eventually moved to take the mic from Aosta as Trump berated him.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself for having you working for them,” Trump said. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
Acosta kept his grip on the mic and while gesturing toward the president, brushed against the woman’s arm and said, “Pardon me, ma’am.”
RELATED VIDEO: PEOPLE Writer Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack
“Don’t believe the lies coming from the WH. Believe in our freedoms,” Acosta wrote on social media, in response to Sanders’ claims.
The reporter also thanked everybody who had spoken out in his defense, writing “we don’t back down.”
CNN said in a statement that the “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 free press, he has a worn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalist.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association has also responded to Trump’s treatment of Acosta and the decision to prohibit him from entering the White House.
“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,” WHCA said in a statement given to PEOPLE.
“Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable. Journalists may use a range of approaches to carry out their jobs and the WHCA does not police the tone or frequency of the questions its members ask of powerful senior government officials, including the President,” WHCA continued. “Such interactions, however uncomfortable they may appear to be, help define the strength of our national institutions. We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”