Judge: White House must return CNN's Jim Acosta's credential

Frederick Owens
November 16, 2018

A federal judge in Washington ruled Friday in favor of CNN in a decision that represents the first legal blows between Trump and the news media.

The White House has been ordered to give CNN reporter Jim Acosta his press pass back by a judge after it had been stripped following a heated exchange with Donald Trump.

This is not the end of the road in this fight. However, he notes First Amendment issues can arise if the administration allows some reporters on the grounds, but not others, according to Buzzfeed News reporter Pat McLeod.

"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.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Acosta said: "I want to thank all of my colleagues, the press, who supported us this week".

A "permanent relief" is also being sought by CNN, but the judge will not be ruling on that today. "Let's go back to work", Acosta said outside the U.S. District Court.

Kelly did not address the First Amendment's protections for freedom of speech and the press, but instead focused on due process provisions of the Constitution that provide for fair treatment through a judicial process.

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Indeed, Acosta often writes and broadcasts directly from the White House, working out of a booth in the press area known as the "lower press room" or from the "upper press office", in close proximity to the Oval Office and the offices of the Press Secretary. The next steps remain to be seen.

"The revocation of Acosta's credentials is only the beginning", CNN's lawsuit alleged, pointing out that Trump has threatened to strip others' press passes too.

The White House pulled Acosta's credentials last week following a combative press conference in which he clashed with Trump. It argued that the standard should be whether the reporter was "disorderly", "rude" or "grandstanding".

The Trump appointee declared that precedent has been set that the White House should have given Acosta due process before taking away his credential and that harm to the reporter has already occurred.

Kelly noted that there have been plenty of contentious, unrelenting journalists covering presidents through the years - and none had ever been stripped of their ability to cover the White House. But he granted CNN's request for a temporary restraining order.

The cable news giant's lawsuit against Trump and several of his senior aides marks a major escalation in the crisis of relations between Trump and what he calls "fake news" and the "enemy of the people".

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