CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration this morning, demanding the return of the White House credentials of Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent. The White House last week suspended Acosta’s “hard pass,” which allows him press access to the White House, hours after he sparred with President Trump at a press briefing.
CNN says it has asked the court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Acosta, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.
The suit was filed in DC District Court.
In a statement, the White House Correspondents Association said it “strongly supports” the suit. “Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday,” it said. “The president of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.”
During Acosta’s exchange with President Trump last Wednesday, a White House intern reached over and tried to take the microphone away from him. The White House accused Acosta of placing his hands on the young woman and distributed a video of the incident that several analysts concluded was doctored to exaggerate the moment of contact.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the lawsuit “just more grandstanding from CNN.” The White House initially said it was revoking Acosta’s hard pass because he land hands on an intern, but Sanders’ new statement said he “physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern.”
“We have been advised that CNN has filed a complaint challenging the suspension of Jim Acosta’s hard pass. This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” Sanders said.
“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. 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. 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.”
Here’s CNN’s complaint.