UPDATED with Jim Acosta remarks outside court: “I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week, and I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today. Let’s get back to work!” CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta crowed, minutes after a federal judge ruled the White House had to immediately return to Acosta the press badge it pulled abruptly this week.
In U.S. District Court in Washington DC Friday morning, Kelly said the news network is likely to prevail in its argument White House did not give due process to CNN’s Chief White House correspondent when it pulled his badge after a wild morning-after-midterms presser.
Kelly rejected Team Trump’s argument plenty of other CNN-ers still hold White House badges, noting that is not relevant to the issue of causing irrevocable harm to Acosta.
The TRO ruling returns Acosta’s White House badge temporarily, while underlying legal arguments could be fought over in weeks to come.
But the judge, a Trump appointee, nicked Acosta for refusing to surrender the White House microphone at that wild presser, during which Trump took verbal swings at several reporters.
In an interview published Wednesday in The Daily Caller, Trump called Acosta “bad for the country.”
“He’s just an average guy who’s a grandstander who’s got the guts to stand up and shout,” Trump said, adding, “he doesn’t even know what he’s asking you half of the time.”
CNN sued the White House Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. The news network claimed pulling Acosta’s press pass violates his First and Fifth Amendment rights, saying, “Acosta’s ability to perform his duties as CNN’s Chief White House correspondent is effectively eliminated.”
“If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials,” the suit added.
More than a a dozen outlets joined CNN in its argument, including Fox News Channel and the White House Correspondents’ Association, as Trump’s team signaled at Wednesday’s hearing POTUS believes he has the options of pulling other journalists’ credentials. On Thursday, Washington Post asked White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp if Trump would pull other reporters’ passes; she declined to answer.
Trump, however, has said publicly he is mulling it.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Trump’s legal team argued POTUS can ban all reporters from the White House for any reason, should he so desire. insisting “There is no First Amendment right.”
There’s a lot of stock being put in how Kelly rules on the TRO; Stelter said CNN would take it as a sign the judge is not buying what it’s selling in its argument about Trump’s act of aggression against Acosta violating its First and Fifth Amendment rights.
White House initially claimed it pulled Acosta’s credentials because he put his hand on a female White House intern during Trump’s post-midterms presser, who had repeatedly grabbed at Acosta’s hand trying to wrest a microphone from him. When the White House’s doctored video of that event was exposed, the Trump administration dropped that argument.
Now the White House maintains Acosta held hostage its microphone at that last-straw presser. “Rude” and “terrible” Acosta, as Trump describes him, or “preening” as Politico has described him, is too disruptive, the White House has stated.