After CNN won an temporary restraining order on Friday that forced the White House to restore Jim Acosta’s press pass, the White House has informed Acosta via letter that they will revoke his press credentials when the 14 day injunction is over on November 30.
In a statement released on Sunday, CNN said, “The White House is continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution. These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the President.”
Judge Timothy Kelly ruled on Friday that the White House had violated Acosta’s Fifth Amendment rights, saying that Acosta’s right to due process had been violated by the removal of his press pass. He granted the temporary restraining order and observed that CNN and Acosta were likely to prevail in the overall complaint. However, he did not rule on the First Amendment issue yet and made it clear that, if due process is provided, the White House has the right to revoke a journalist’s press credentials.
The White House moved immediately to inform CNN of their intent to remove Acosta’s press credentials again via a formal letter sent on Friday, after the ruling came down.
According to CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, “From the looks of the letter, the W.H. is trying to establish a paper trail that will empower the administration to boot Acosta again at the end of the month.”
Lawyers from CNN say that the White House’s letter referring to Acosta’s conduct during the press conference on November 7, in which Acosta asked several follow up questions and did not immediately relinquish the mic, is an “attempt to provide retroactive due process.” The letter was signed by Bill Shine, deputy chief of staff for communications, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary, both defendants in CNN’s lawsuit and accuses Jim Acosta of failing to abide by “basic, widely understood practices” in the November 7 post-midterms press conference.
The new filing from CNN states that they hope to resolve the matter outside of court. However, the White House letter seems to indicate that the president is willing to fight in court rather than seeking a solution out of court.
According to Axios, “This is a high-risk confrontation for both sides. It turns out that press access to the White House is grounded very much in tradition rather than in plain-letter law. So a court fight could result in a precedent that curtails freedom to cover the most powerful official in the world from the literal front row.”
In an interview with Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace, President Trump was asked about Acosta and replied, “If he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference.” He continued, “Nobody believes in the First Amendment more than I do” and said that he would leave next time a reporter acts “out of sorts” and violates the “rules of decorum”. He stated that the other reporters wouldn’t be “too friendly with the one who is acting up”. He went on to add, “I think one of the things we’ll do is maybe turn the camera off that faces them [the reporters] because then they don’t have any airtime. Although I’ll probably be sued for that and maybe, you know, win or lose it. Who knows.”
Lawyers for CNN are expected in court this week to discuss how the original case will proceed. Many news organizations, including Fox News, filed amicus briefs in support of CNN’s initial suit, stating that the case was a matter of freedom of the press. President Trump has recently mused that other reporters may have their press credentials pulled in addition to Jim Acosta.