CNN Files Lawsuit Against Trump, Top Aides After White House Revoked Acosta's Credentials

CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta / Getty Images
November 13, 2018

CNN on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and top White House aides after they revoked White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials last week.

Acosta's White House "hard pass" was suspended last week following a heated interaction where he refused to give up the microphone to a White House intern after an aggressive series of questions. Trump repeatedly told him to sit down, but he didn't listen to him, which ultimately led him to be accused of manhandling the intern.

"This morning, CNN filed a lawsuit against @realDonaldTrump and top aides. The White House has violated CNN and @Acosta's First Amendment rights of freedom of the press and Fifth Amendment rights to due process," CNN's communications team tweeted.

CNN and Acosta are both plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and six defendants from he Trump administration are listed. The defendants are Trump, chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, the director of the Secret Service, and the Secret Service officer who revoked Acosta's hard pass last Wednesday.

The White House acknowledged in a statement on Tuesday it had been advised of the complaint, which it referred to as "just more grandstanding from CNN," and said the administration would "vigorously defend against this lawsuit." The press secretary said Acosta's inappropriate and unprofessional behavior could not be tolerated in the interest of running an "orderly and fair press conference."

CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment. After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.

The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional. The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.

Following the suspension of Acosta's credentials, reporters asked Trump about the CNN correspondent, prompting the president to castigate him as "a rude, terrible person."

"I think Jim Acosta is a very unprofessional man. He does this with everybody. He gets paid to do that," Trump said. "Whether it was me or Ronald Reagan or anybody else, he would have done the same thing."

"I don't think he's a smart person, but he's got a loud voice," Trump added.

Ted Olson, an attorney for CNN and Acosta, said the correspondent's press credentials "must be restored so that all members of the press know they will remain free to ask tough questions, challenge government officials, and report the business of the nation to American people."