The White House has been ordered by federal judge Timothy J. Kelly to return CNN’s Jim Acosta’s press pass back after revoking it last week, CNN reports. The judge ruled that Acosta’s fifth amendment rights were violated when the White House suspended Acosta’s press pass after the incident that occurred during President Trump’s post-election press conference.
Judge Kelly said in his ruling that the White House did not provide legally required due process in their decision to revoke Acosta’s press credentials. The judge pointed out that this ruling is “very limited” in nature and that the White House can revoke Acosta’s press pass again if the required due process is provided. He also stated that he believes CNN and Acosta will prevail in the case.
The ruling is a temporary restraining order, per Buzzfeed, and temporarily reinstates Acosta’s credentials. The judge did not rule on the underlying case and will schedule a briefing on the permanent injunction in the weeks to come.
The CNN lawsuit stated, “the revocation of Acosta’s credentials is only the beginning,” and added that the president has threatened to revoke the press passes of other journalists in addition to Acosta’s. Numerous news organizations joined CNN’s lawsuit, filing amicus briefs in support.
In addition to the White House, the suit named Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary, and John Kelly, chief of staff, as defendants.
Sanders was involved in the aftermath of the incident which resulted in the White House removing Acosta’s press pass by putting out changing explanations of the White House’s rational for their actions and a video of the incident that was doctored to make Acosta look more guilty.
Acosta’s hard pass was revoked Nov. 7 after he refused to give up the microphone during a White House press conference with Trump. Acosta was trying to ask the president about the Russia investigation, and a White House intern went up to him to take the microphone and move on to another reporter.
Acosta wouldn’t sit down, however, and briefly made contact with the woman’s arm as he tried to dodge her efforts to take the microphone from him. In a statement explaining the decision to revoke his hard pass, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of “placing hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.” The White House later dropped that as a rationale for the decision, and focused on its contention that he had disrupted the press conference and been rude.Buzzfeed
Judge Kelly was appointed by President Trump less than a year ago and asked tough questions of both sides in the hearing on Wednesday, according to CNN. The ruling was scheduled to come on Thursday but the judge postponed it for unknown reasons.
The position of the Justice Department, argued by DOJ attorney James Burham in court on Wednesday, is a break with long tradition. He said it is legal for the White House to remove a reporter’s press pass based on disagreement with the journalist’s reporting.
The White House Correspondent’s Association says that position is dangerous.
“Simply stated,” the association’s lawyers wrote in a brief on Thursday, “if the President were to have the absolute discretion to strip a correspondent of a hard pass, the chilling effect would be severe and the First Amendment protections afforded journalists to gather and report news on the activities on the President would be largely eviscerated.”CNN