“The question is: Did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear, he did,” she said in a statement. “We stand by our statement.”
The White House blocked access to Acosta on Wednesday after a heated exchange between the journalist and President Donald Trump at a news conference, during which an intern tried to grab a microphone from the CNN reporter.
In a series of tweets later that day, Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman.” But video from the news conference shows the reporter turning away from the intern as she reaches over his arm to take the microphone from his hand.
CNN categorized the White House banning its reporter an “unprecedented decision” based on “lies” and said Acosta had the network’s full support.
“It was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,” CNN said Wednesday in a tweeted statement.
During the exchange, Trump called Acosta a “rude, terrible person” because the reporter refused to sit down after asking the president about a racist anti-immigration ad he promoted ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
“In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened,” CNN added in its statement. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized CNN and called it “fake news.”