CNN Sues The White House Over Jim Acosta’s Revoked Press Credentials

Mike Brest | Reporter

CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Tuesday after the White House revoked White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials.

“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” CNN said in a statement. “We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”

“If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials,” the network continued.

CNN and Acosta filed the lawsuit against President Donald Trump, John Kelly, Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Secret Service, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles and a specific unnamed Secret Service agent in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

A White House staff member steps in to try to take the microphone away from CNN’s Jim Acosta as he questions President Donald Trump during a news conference following Tuesday’s midterm U.S. congressional elections at the White House in Washington, ovember 7, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“This severe and unprecedented punishment is the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting—an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view,” the lawsuit alleges.

Acosta’s press credentials were revoked after a spat with Trump during his post-midterm election press conference on Wednesday.

A White House intern reaches for and tries to take away the microphone held by CNN correspondent Jim Acosta as he questions President Donald Trump during a news conference at the White House in Washington, November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The fight began when Acosta asked the president about his rhetoric on the migrant caravan. Trump shut him down and asked him to sit down. Acosta refused and continued asking questions. The president retaliated by verbally attacking both Acosta and CNN. As this was going on, a White House intern approached Acosta and tried to take the microphone from him. (RELATED: Trump Accuses Reporter Of Asking ‘Racist’ Question)

Almost immediately after the conclusion of the press conference, CNN released a statement calling the president’s treatment of Acosta “disturbingly un-American.”

That evening, Sanders announced Acosta’s press pass was revoked “until further notice.”

CNN argued that without press credentials, “Acosta’s ability to perform his duties as CNN’s Chief White House correspondent is effectively eliminated.”

“Defendants have not reinstated Acosta’s press credentials or returned his hard pass
and have informed CNN and Acosta they do not intend to do so,” CNN wrote in the lawsuit. “The White House also rejected Acosta’s application for a day pass on November 8, 2018.”

The network alleges the revocation has caused “harm” to CNN and “its many viewers and readers who rely on CNN as an essential news source.”

The White House responded forcefully with a statement from Sanders.

“This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” Sanders said Tuesday.

“CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment,” she continued. “After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.”

“The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional,” Sanders said. “The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.”

The White House Correspondents Association said it “strongly supports CNN’s goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place.”

“Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday,” WHCA president Olivier Knox tweeted Tuesday. “We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent. The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.”

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