Judge: White House must restore reporter’s press pass

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A federal judge ruled Friday that CNN correspondent Jim Acosta can keep his White House credential for now, handing a victory to CNN in its lawsuit against President Trump and top White House officials. 

Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump-appointed judge, granted CNN its request for a temporary restraining order to force the White House to return Acosta’s credential.

Still, “I have not determined the First Amendment was violated here,” Kelly said. However, he said that “I must apply the precedent of this circuit as I see it.” 

Acosta emerged from the courtroom and briefly thanked his colleagues in the press for their support this week. “Let’s go back to work,” Acosta said.

On Wednesday, Kelly heard from both sides’ lawyers, with the attorney representing CNN arguing the White House is infringing on Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights, and the attorney representing Mr. Trump and others named in the suit claiming White House access is up to the president’s discretion. 

“If the president wants to exclude all reporters from the White House grounds, he clearly has the discretion to do that,” James Burnham, the lawyer for the defendants, said. 

Theodore Boutrous, Jr., the lawyer for the plaintiffs, pointed out that the White House has “come up with four different reasons” for revoking Acosta’s access. 

Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Acosta’s hard pass — the White House access pass granted to some journalists after a rigorous background check process — was being revoked after Acosta had a testy exchange with the president in last week’s press conference. The White House initially justified revoking Acosta’s access because they said he placed hands on an intern in the televised news conference. But their arguments submitted to court didn’t mention that as a reason for revoking the pass.

Fox News, CBS News, and other media outlets have signed onto an amicus brief in support of CNN and Acosta. 

“We do not believe that revoking White House press credentials is an appropriate remedy for a disagreement the White House may have with a particular reporter,” CBS News said in a statement. “We intend to file a friend of the court brief in support of CNN’s lawsuit to defend its constitutional rights.”

 

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