White House restores access for CNN’S Acosta, ending legal fight

November 20, 2018 - 8:02 AM
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White House intern
A White House intern reaches for and tries to take away the microphone held by CNN correspondent Jim Acosta as he questions U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018. Picture taken November 7, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday restored press access for CNN reporter Jim Acosta, ending a legal fight that had so far gone against the Trump administration.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement the press pass for Acosta, which was revoked after a contentious Nov. 7 news conference with President Donald Trump, was restored but reporters who ignored new rules for news conferences could have their credentials taken away.

Under the rules, “a journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists,” but a follow-up question may be permitted at the president’s discretion, Sanders said.

The White House Correspondents’ Association said it had not helped craft the White House’s list of rules for news conferences.

“For as long as there have been White House press conferences, White House reporters have asked follow-up questions. We fully expect this tradition will continue,” Olivier Knox, the association’s president, said in a statement.

CNN had sought an emergency federal court hearing after the White House said it would again revoke Acosta’s pass once a temporary restraining order reinstating it for a two-week period expired.

But on Monday afternoon, CNN said its lawsuit challenging the White House’s actions was no longer necessary.

“Thanks to everybody for their support. As I said last Friday … let’s get back to work,” Acosta wrote on Twitter.

Acosta’s credentials were initially revoked after Trump denounced him as a “rude, terrible person” during a news conference, during which Acosta questioned the president about the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and a migrant caravan traveling through Mexico.

“That’s enough, that’s enough,” Trump told Acosta, as a White House intern tried to take the microphone away from the correspondent.

CNN challenged the press pass revocation in court, arguing it violated Acosta’s First Amendment right to free speech, as well as the due process clause of the Constitution providing fair treatment through judicial and administrative process.

In temporarily restoring Acosta’s credentials, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said last Friday that the White House had failed to provide due process. He did not address any alleged First Amendment violations.

In court, U.S. government lawyers said there was no First Amendment right of access to the White House and that Acosta was penalized for acting rudely at the news conference, not for his criticism of the president. —Reporting by Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Mohammad Zargham, Jan Wolfe and Roberta Rampton; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney