The White House severely escalated its war on the free press Wednesday.

In a major escalation of its war on the free press, the White House on Wednesday fabricated allegations of physical assault against CNN’s Chief White House correspondent — and then used the false accusation to justify revoking the reporter’s press credentials.

CNN’s Jim Acosta announced in a tweet Wednesday night that he was denied access when he tried to enter the White House for his evening news segment.

A short time later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement — which she also posted as a Twitter thread — saying Acosta’s press pass had been suspended as a result of his attempt earlier in the day to fend off a physical confrontation and stop someone from taking the microphone out of his hand during Wednesday’s press briefing.

In her statement, Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” and said the White House had decided to suspend his press pass “until further notice” as a result of the incident.

Except that’s not what happened.

The incident, which was captured on camera, took place at Wednesday’s White House press briefing, during which Trump referred to the press as the “enemy of the people” and, in an unprecedented move, sent a White House intern out to forcibly remove a microphone from a reporter’s hands.

When the staffer approached him, Acosta put his hands up to shield himself from the attempted physical confrontation. After trying to keep hold of the microphone, Acosta eventually let go of the mic and sat down. The only time he used his hands was to fend off the White House intern trying to forcibly remove the mic from his grip.

While Trump has had an ongoing feud with Acosta for months, the incident on Wednesday marked a major escalation of Trump’s war on the free press. The attempt to forcibly silence a CNN reporter is especially egregious coming just weeks after a Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to CNN.

“By harassing [Acosta] for simply doing his job & deeming him as the ‘enemy of the people’, President Trump is engaging in a calculated effort of putting a target on this journalist’s back,” the National Association of Hispanic Journalists wrote in a tweet Wednesday night.

Notably, the incident came just after Acosta tried to ask Trump about the possibility of new indictments stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference and potential coordination with the Trump campaign.

Just hours before he tried to forcibly silence a reporter, Trump forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign so he could replace him with someone who can take over the Mueller investigation.

With midterms over and Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, Trump is about to face a level of accountability that he has never had to deal with — and clearly, he’s terrified about what will happen now that he doesn’t have Republicans like Devin Nunes to use their majority in the House to protect him.

For the entirety of his presidency, Trump has tried to delegitimize the press so people won’t believe negative news reports about him. Since that didn’t work, he has apparently decided that his only option is to silence reporters who are trying to do their jobs.

For someone who claims he has nothing to hide, Trump sure is going extreme lengths to try to hide the truth.

Published with permission of The American Independent.