This at the end of a two hour hearing in Washington D.C. on CNN’s temporary restraining order request to get Acosta back in the White House.
CNN filed suit against President Trump and several top aides in DC District Court on Tuesday, alleging the credential yanking violated CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.
Trump’s DOJ had argued the White House can pick and choose which journalists are credentialed and can jettison anyone it wants. The White House sent four government lawyers to defend Trump’s decision to revoke Acosta’s White House credentials.
As Acosta entered the Washington District Court courtroom this afternoon, a man shouted to him, “Acosta, you should be lawfully hung!”
The CNN/Acosta’s legal team went first, with Kelly grilling lawyer Theodore Boutrous about the network’s claim the Acosta ban is “content-based discrimination.”
Despite presenting examples of Trump’s repeated attacks on CNN as “Fake News” and “enemy of the people,” Kelly, a Trump appointee, was dubious that proved Acosta banning was “content-based discrimination.” Kelly argued there is evidence Acosta’s conduct led to his suspension, adding, “we’ve all seen the clip” of infamous post-midterms White House presser at which Acosta “continued speaking after his time expired” and “wouldn’t give up his microphone” – which, in one of those incredible coincidences, are Trump talking points in this case.
Kelly even wondered if the White House “could…let him keep the pass but tell him he couldn’t come to presidential press conferences?”
Boutrous argued Acosta’s credential pulling was content discrimination, noted the White House jettisoned its initial assertion the credentials were pulled because Acosta put his hands on an intern during Trump’s post-midterm White House presser, and suggested White House could have, at any time, reined in Acosta by not calling on him at press events. Trump always calls on Acosta at press events.
A long time thorn in Trump’s paw, Acosta was refused entry to the Executive Mansion on November 7 by a White House guard who asked the reporter to hand over his credentials. That came just hours after a live on national TV dust-up between the President and Acosta at what was supposed to be a victory lap East Room press conference by Trump and descended into a verbal brawl. At one point, after bellowing “put down the mic,” POTUS called the CNN correspondent a “rude, terrible person” as Acosta refused to back down on questions he had for Trump.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders first announced, mere minutes after Acosta’s pass was taken away, “We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”
Acosta called Sanders assertion “a lie” and footage of the presser clearly showed Acosta was in fact politely trying to keep the microphone in his own hands to continue lobbing questions at Trump, while the intern tried repeatedly to snatch the microphone out of his hand. A clearly doctored video put out by the White House on November 8 received much guffawing. White House then claimed the CNN reporter was “disrespectful” and perhaps even a danger to Trump, causing Secret Service to get involved.
However, Trump seemed to nuke that argument on Friday when he told reporters on the White House lawn he might pull credentials on more reporters if they do not treat his White House and his presidency as “sacred.”
Then he lashed out at CNN again, over content, telling another CNN reporter her question to him was “stupid,” adding that she had asked “a lot of stupid questions” over time.
On Tuesday, the White House again re-cast its argument for stripping Acosta of his press pass, charging him with holding hostage a White House microphone.
Walking up to the hearing, at least 13 media outlets locked arms with CNN in its legal effort including even Donald Trump’s darling Fox News. That includes DOnald Trump’s fave Fox News, whose president Jay Wallace said in a statement, “Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” adding, “While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”