CNN Sues Trump, WH Aides Over Jim Acosta’s Press Pass Suspension

By Melanie Arter | November 13, 2018 | 10:01am EST
CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta refuses to give microphone to White House intern during press conference with President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

( – CNN is suing President Donald Trump and his aides for revoking its White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s hard pass.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., calls for the immediate restoration of Acosta’s White House access.

As previously reported, his White House press credentials were suspended last week after he refused to give the microphone back to a White House intern during a press conference with Trump when Trump refused to answer any more of Acosta’s questions.

Sanders said at the time that the White House will “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young women just trying to do her job as a White House intern.” She called his behavior “absolutely unacceptable” and disrespectful to other reporters he refused to allow to ask their questions.

Six people are named in the lawsuit because of their roles in enforcing and announcing Acosta’s suspension. CNN and Acosta are plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The six defendants are Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, and the Secret Service officer who took Acosta’s hard pass away identified only as John Doe in the lawsuit.

CNN notified the White House of a possible lawsuit if Acosta’s pass was not immediately reinstated.


"CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court," CNN said in a statement Tuesday morning. "It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN's Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta's First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process," the statement added.

The White House responded to the lawsuit, saying, “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.

“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,” Sanders said in a statement.

“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 statement read.

“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,” Sanders added.

"While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone," CNN said. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."

The White House Correspondents Association issued a statement of support Tuesday for Acosta.

“The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly supports CNN’s goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place,” White House Correspondents Association President Olivier Knox said.

“Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday. We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent. The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him,” Knox added.

Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell called CNN’s lawsuit “ridiculous.” The Media Research Center is the parent company of

“CNN’s lawsuit is ridiculous. I am, and have always been, a defender of the Constitution and the First Amendment. That said, no one reporter has a constitutional right to access the press briefing room. It’s the prerogative of the White House to decide who gets a pass and who does not,” Bozell said in a statement.

“Let me be clear: Jim Acosta is not a reporter; he is a left-wing activist. He has proven on countless occasions that he is more interested in disrupting and debating the President than asking serious questions. As far as the administration is concerned, CNN is not a news organization but a political hit squad for the far left,” he said.

“I am sure Jim Acosta’s press pass would be restored if he proved himself capable of playing the role of a respectable journalist like nearly every other correspondent in that room. Until that happens, the White House's decision to suspend Acosta is absolutely justified,” Bozell added.

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