WASHINGTON— White House adviser Kellyanne Conway dismissed CNN reporter Jim Acosta as “a smart ass” Tuesday during a tense exchange outside the West Wing.
As Conway fielded questions from members of the press, Acosta — CNN’s chief White House correspondent — asked if she could promise that President Donald Trump “will tell the truth tonight” during his primetime Oval Office address.
“Yes, Jim, do you promise that you will, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?” Conway responded. “Am I allowed to mention God to you?”
“I’m not the one who has an alternative facts problem like you do,” Acosta replied, referencing a phrase she coined early on in the Trump presidency to mitigate questionable claims that came from the commander-in-chief.
“Make sure that goes viral,” Conway then said. “This is why I’m one of the only people around here who even gives you the time of day. Let me get back in your face because you’re such a smart ass most of the time and I know you want this to go viral.”
Added Conway, “a lot of these people don’t like you. But let me just be respectful. I explained that that was alternative information and additional facts and I explained it many times, and don’t you put it back in my face for all of the corrections your network needs to issue.”
After Conway continued to take questions, Acosta asked which former presidents had told Trump they supported a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a claim Trump made last week that was met with denials from all of the living presidents’ offices.
“Anybody else, who’s not talking to themselves?” Conway asked, addressing the rest of the press.
Acosta briefly had his White House press pass revoked following a Nov. 7 news conference in which he clashed with the president while attempting to ask follow-up questions.
Acosta and a female White House intern then jostled over a microphone when she tried to grab it. He brushed her arm as he held tight to the mic, a move the White House initially tried to cast as inappropriate.
The decision was overturned following a successful lawsuit from CNN and the White House responded by codifying rules for conduct.
Trump is set to deliver his address, which the White House says will make the humanitarian and national security case for a border wall, on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST.
Conway played down the possibility that the president plans to declare a national emergency in an effort to fund a barrier without Congressional permission, a prospect the president initially raised on Friday.