CNN sues Trump administration for taking away reporter's credentials
White House correspondent Jim Acosta denied access after latest clash with president
CNN is suing the Trump administration, demanding that correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials to cover the White House be returned.
The administration revoked them last week following U.S. President Donald Trump's contentious news conference, where Acosta refused to give up a microphone when the president said he didn't want to hear anything more from him.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., District Court. CNN claimed in a statement that taking away Acosta's press pass "violates CNN and Acosta's First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and the Fifth Amendment rights to due process."
CNN is asking for an immediate restraining order to return Acosta to the White House.
Several journalists and organizations — including the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Online News Association — have demanded Acosta's access be reinstated.
The White House said it would "vigorously defend against this lawsuit," calling it "more grandstanding" by CNN.
A statement released by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the fact that CNN had 50 other pass holders and noted what it characterized as Acosta's repeated unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour.
'A rude, terrible person'
The White House has been accused of editing a video of Acosta refusing to give up the microphone to an administration aide during the Nov. 7 confrontation. That exchange came after Trump took umbrage at the CNN reporter's question concerning the caravan of migrants heading north through Central America.
"I think you should let me run the country and you run CNN," said Trump, who then called Acosta "a rude, terrible person."
In the aftermath, the White House accused Acosta of grabbing the female aide who attempted to take the microphone, an allegation that is absent from the press secretary's statement on Tuesday.
The lawsuit seems certain to further inflame the relationship between the administration and the network. Acosta and Sanders have sparred verbally during briefings, while Trump has frequently derided critical reports on the network as "fake news," while generally characterizing the press as "the enemy of the people."
CNN president Jeff Zucker last month took Trump to task for his rhetoric after the network, as well as those critical of the president, received threatening packages that included apparent pipe bombs.
"There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media," Zucker said in a statement released by CNN on Oct. 24.
"The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that."
The reproaches haven't altered Trump's approach. Trump, two days after the Acosta incident, reacted disgustedly to a question from CNN reporter Abby Phillip about his choice for interim attorney general.
"What a stupid question that is," said Trump.
In a joint statement, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection said they had submitted an amicus brief supporting CNN's action.
"To be sure, Trump is entitled to dislike Acosta and any other journalist. Many presidents have been angered by searching news coverage," said the statement. "But Trump's revocation of Acosta's credentials is, simply put, extraordinary."
The courts must guard against "government attempts to bully critics into silence," the advocacy groups said.
With files from CBC News