CNN, Jim Acosta Beat White House: Judge Orders Press Pass Must Be Restored

A federal judge on Friday ruled in favor of the cable outlet in its lawsuit against Trump for revoking the press credentials of its top White House reporter.

By Maxwell Tani, Asawin Suebsaeng 

CNN on Friday won its legal battle against the Trump administration over its decision to revoke press credentials for White House reporter Jim Acosta.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, granted the network’s request for a temporary restraining order restoring Acosta’s White House press badge.

CNN sued the administration earlier this week in response to the White House’s decision to strip Acosta of his security credentials, which allow accredited journalists access to select areas of the White House.

Acosta had his pass revoked several hours after a heated exchange in which he pressed the president over his inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants, refusing to relinquish the microphone when a White House staffer attempted to take it away from him as the president berated him and called him a “rude, terrible person.”

In its lawsuit, the network said the White House’s actions violated the network and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights to free speech and due process. CNN argued Trump stripped Acosta of his access because of the questions he posed to the president; and that the White House failed to follow federal regulations dictating press-pass access.

In his decision, Judge Kelly said that under previous precedent set by a 1977 ruling, the White House “must provide due process if they are to revoke Mr. Acosta’s hard pass.”

Deputy Assistant Attorney General James Burnham, a lawyer for the administration, argued on Wednesday that Acosta had been disruptive, and the administration had a legal basis to vet reporters given press passes and bounce those they feel act disruptively.

But the judge found those arguments unconvincing. In fact, at one point during his ruling, Judge Kelly criticized the administration for its ever-changing defenses of its decision, including its short-lived and dubious claim that Acosta “laid his hands” on the female White House intern who tried to take the microphone from him—a claim of “questionable accuracy,” per Kelly.

While the judge temporarily restored Acosta’s press badge, he emphasized the “very limited” nature of the ruling. Kelly did not rule whether Acosta’s First Amendment rights were violated, and left open the possibility that Acosta may have his press pass legally revoked if offered appropriate due process.

In a statement following Friday’s hearing, CNN and Acosta said they were “gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days.”

“Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press,” they said.

Acosta was seen outside the courtroom on Friday, saying, “Let’s get back to work,” following the ruling.


Story first appeared in the thedailybeast.com on 16th Nov, 2018


Mumbai Press Club
Article posted on 17/11/2018

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