U.S. Markets open in 2 hrs 8 mins

Trump attacks CNN's Jim Acosta in angry White House press conference: ‘Just sit down’

Jon Sharman

Donald Trump has launched an extraordinary tirade against a reporter during a press conference following the midterm elections.

The US president ordered the journalist to put down his microphone and “just sit down”.

The row began following a question about the migrant caravan approaching the US, when Mr Trump was asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta if he thought he had “demonised” migrants by calling the group an “invasion”.

“I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” the Republican said.

After Mr Acosta attempted to follow up his question with a second on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Mr Trump added, pointing angrily: “That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough. Excuse me, that’s enough.”

Mr Trump said he was “not concerned about anything” because the investigation was “a hoax”.

Continuing to berate Mr Acosta, he added: “That’s enough. Put down the mic.”

Mr Acosta was seen to tussle with a female White House aide who was trying to retrieve the microphone.

As the reporter continued to quiz him and interrupt him, Mr Trump became more agitated and stepped away from the podium. Mr Acosta then sat down.

Returning to the podium, Mr Trump said: “I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.

“The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible and the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

A second reporter, Peter Alexander, was called on by the president and said: “In Jim’s defence I’ve travelled with him a lot, he’s a diligent reporter.”

Mr Trump cut him off, telling the NBC News journalist that “I’m not a big fan of yours either”, prompting laughter in the room.

Mr Acosta continued to try to ask questions without his microphone, causing Mr Trump to tell him: “Just sit down, please. When you report fake news – no – when you report fake news, which CNN does, a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

Mr Trump appeared to be in a sour mood following the Democrats’ capture of the House of Representatives last night, though he talked up the Republicans’ gain of at least two seats in the Senate.

But he mocked a number of losing Republican candidates who did not campaign for him. “Those are some of the people who decided for their own reason not to embrace – whether it’s me or what we stand for,” he said.

“They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad but I feel just fine about it.”

Mr Trump clashed with a series of reporters during the testy, 90-minute press conference, as journalists frequently spoke over him and each other when trying to raise their questions.

Asked repeatedly by a Yahoo! News reporter about alleged racist comments – which he strongly denied – Mr Trump said: “Quiet. Quiet. See, when you talk about division [in America], it’s people like this that cause division, great division.

“Point of fact is I never used a racist remark, that’s the point of fact. Who are you from? Yahoo? Oh, good. I hope they’re doing well.”

Mr Trump’s infrequent set-piece press conferences tend to address a huge range of topics as reporters try to press the president on any and all issues. Their rarity increases the pressure on journalists to get answers.