CNN sues President Donald Trump, top White House aides to regain access for Jim Acosta
"If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."
CNN has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and several of his top aides at the White House after they revoked their correspondent Jim Acosta's press access, known as a Secret Service "hard pass" to the White House. The suit, filed by the television network in US District Court in Washington, DC on Tuesday morning, reportedly alleges that Acosta and CNN's First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated because of the ban imposed on them.
The White House banned Acosta last week after a heated exchange with the president during a press conference. The White House later released a video — which is believed to be altered — to show that Acosta made a physical contact with an intern, citing it as a reason for the ban. Trump, however, denied the suggestions and stated that the video was not doctored and was simply a "close-up" of the incident.
However, a frame-by-frame comparison of the video posted by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the one taken by the Associated Press, showed that the video tweeted by Sanders appears to speed up Acosta's arm movement when he makes contact with a young intern trying to take away his microphone during last Wednesday's press conference. The speed-up footage makes the gesture look threatening.
The move received widespread criticism, including from multiple journalism advocacy groups who rejected the White House's explanation for the ban and asked for Acosta's pass to be reinstated.
Reports state that both CNN and Acosta are plaintiffs in the lawsuit and the six defendants in the suit are Trump, chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, the director of the Secret Service, and the Secret Service officer who took Acosta's hard pass away. The officer's identification is pending and he has been marked as John Doe in the suit. CNN stated that all the six defendants in the suit have been named for their roles in enforcing and announcing Acosta's suspension.
The network, on Friday, had sent a letter to the White House formally requesting immediate reinstatement of Acosta's pass and had also warned of a possible lawsuit.
CNN, on Tuesday morning, released a statement, saying it is seeking a preliminary injunction as soon as possible.
"CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court. 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 said.
I'm posting this close up not to bolster my argument that Jim Acosta did nothing wrong, because I think that's pretty clear. Instead, look at the way this staffer keeps looking to Trump for confirmation on each attempt. It's so creepy. This blind obedience is cult like. pic.twitter.com/PRLBxkoCHI— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) November 8, 2018
Trump, while talking about Acosta on Friday, had said: "He's a very unprofessional guy. I don't think he's a smart person but he has a loud voice. You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect." The president also suggested that there "could be other" reporters whose credentials could be revoked.