White House goes after Jim Acosta’s press pass again as CNN seeks hearing

CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is once again under fire from the White House over his press pass, which was revoked earlier this month and temporarily restored by a court order Friday.

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As it stands, Acosta is guaranteed use of his press pass to the White House through the end of the month. But the White House wasted no time informing Acosta of a “preliminary decision” to suspend his pass after that period is up. Lawyers for CNN responded Monday by filing for an emergency hearing the week after Thanksgiving, “or as soon thereafter as possible.”

The letter cites “behavior” at a press conference the day after the midterms that “violated the basic standards governing such events” as the reason to suspend Acosta’s pass. It’s signed by Bill Shine, deputy chief of staff for communications, and Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, who are both named as defendants in the initial lawsuit.

Over the weekend, Acosta and CNN’s legal team wrote back to Sanders and Shine, calling the letter a “attempt to provide retroactive due process” and requesting the White House “refrain from — yet again — violating the constitutional rights of CNN and Acosta.”

Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump speaks as CNN’s Jim Acosta, standing at right, listens, during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington.

CNN filed a lawsuit earlier this week claiming that revoking Acosta’s press pass to the White House, known as a “hard pass,” violated the First Amendment. Acosta was stripped of his credentials, without warning, when he returned to the White House, where he works daily, after a heated exchange between Trump and Acosta at a press conference on Nov. 7.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly repeatedly emphasized at the court hearing on Friday that his decision to return Acosta’s press pass, with a temporary restraining order as litigation continues, was based on the Fifth Amendment, under which the judge ruled Acosta was denied his right to due process. Due process would give Acosta and CNN the chance to rebut and challenge the appropriateness of the government’s action.

In his closing remarks, Kelly made clear that the ruling, which is only the beginning of the court proceedings to decide Acosta’s White House access, was narrow and didn’t determine whether or not Acosta’s First Amendment right was violated.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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