After a ceremony on Tuesday, December 12, in which President Donalt Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta rejected a request by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders not to ask Trump a question at the event.
As the President turned to leave the Roosevelt Room in the White House, Acosta shouted the following query referring to a tweet Trump had posted earlier that day: “Mr. President, what did you mean when you said that Kirsten Gillibrand would do anything for a campaign contribution?”
Acosta was quoting a message the Republican occupant of the White House put online hours earlier, when he asserted:
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump.
Mediaite's Ken Meyer noted in an article: “Salacious insinuations aside, Trump is attacking Senator Kirsten Gillibrand after she stated that the president should resign over the numerous sexual accusations against him.”
“She also said Congress ought to conduct an investigation into Trump’s alleged misconduct if he refuses to step down,” Meyer added.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time Gillibrand made a statement that got her in trouble. In mid-November, she startled many Democrats by asserting that President Bill Clinton should have stepped down after his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky became public knowledge.
A few hours after that Mediaite item, Meyer produced another article, in which the CNN correspondent claimed that the press secretary “told him he would lose his White House press access if he tried to ask President Trump a question.”
Acosta’s message read: “Good morning, @presssec, what does the president mean when he says Senator Gillibrand ‘would do anything’ for campaign contributions?”
In a later posting, the correspondent stated: “Prior to this moment, @presssec issued a warning to me. She said if I asked a question of Trump at the bill signing, "I can't promise you will be allowed into a ‘pool spray’ again."
“Sorry, Sarah,” Acosta continued. “We won't be intimidated.”
It wasn’t long before the reporter was a guest being interviewed by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, who asked: “So are you hearing any more reaction? What else are White House officials saying about those rather controversial presidential tweets?”
Acosta replied: “We have gone back to the White House press secretary and her top aides over here over the last several hours to ask what, in fact, did the president mean when he said that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been very critical of him in recent days and called on him to resign yesterday ... , what he meant when he said that Senator Gillibrand would ‘do anything’ for a campaign contribution.”
“As a matter of fact,” he added, “as he was signing a defense authorization bill over here at the White House in the last several minutes, I asked the president what he meant about that, and he did not respond.”
“But Senator Gillibrand is responding,” the correspondent continued. “She spoke to reporters earlier this morning. Here’s what she had to say”:
It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice, and I will not be silenced on this issue.
Neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday, and neither will the millions of women who have been marching since the Women’s March to stand up against policies they do not agree with.
The White House correspondent then noted: “Just to give you a sense of how sensitive this matter is over at the White House, ...in the moments before I asked the president that question … , the White House press secretary … pulled me aside.”
“This was prior to me asking that question of the president, and she warned me that if I asked the president a question at this ‘pool spray,’ as we call them, that she could not promise I would be allowed into a pool spray again.”
“Wolf, this was a direct threat coming from the press secretary to me, warning me not to ask a question,” Acosta stated, “and, of course, I went ahead and asked the question anyway, and the president did not respond.”
“But Wolf, as you know,” he continued, “we don’t respond to threats, we’re not going to be intimidated. But that did happen.”
It’s not surprising that Democrats want to drag President Trump down with members of their party who have resigned over sexual misconduct accusations. It didn’t work during the 2016 presidential campaign, and it’s not likely to be successful now.