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Federal Judge Orders White House To Reinstate Acosta’s Press Credentials

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to reinstate press credentials for CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by President Trump, granted CNN’s request to restore the press pass for Acosta, giving him regular access to the White House grounds to cover events and press conferences.

“I want to emphasize the very limited nature of this ruling,” Kelly said Friday in granting the temporary restraining order in favor of CNN.

The White House revoked Acosta’s pass last week after a contentious exchange with Trump during a televised press conference the day after the midterm elections. The cable network argued that the Trump administration’s move violated the First Amendment rights of both CNN and Acosta.

CNN and Acosta argued that the president revoked the credentials because he didn’t like the questions Acosta was asking. The government countered that Acosta’s credentials were revoked for grandstanding and refusing to surrender the microphone to a White House intern so that another reporter could ask a question.

When Acosta held on to the microphone at the Nov. 7 press conference, Trump called him a “rude, terrible person.”

“You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” he said, later adding, “When you report fake news, which CNN does, a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

After the press conference, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands” on the White House intern and cited the incident as the reason for why his media access was being revoked.

Judge Kelly said that Acosta and his employer have shown that they are likely to succeed in their argument that their Fifth Amendment rights to due process were violated by the White House.

“In forcefully and unflinchingly questioning the President, Acosta was engaged in precisely the kind of constitutionally protected newsgathering and questioning of the government that the First Amendment safeguards and upon which our democracy depends.”

The courtroom showdown overseen by Kelly could have a grave effect on journalists’ rights to access the White House and cover the administration.

CNN and Acosta argued that the president revoked the credentials because he didn’t like the questions Acosta was asking. The government countered that Acosta’s credentials were revoked for grandstanding and refusing to surrender the microphone to a White House intern so that another reporter could ask a question.

When Acosta held on to the microphone at the Nov. 7 press conference, Trump called him a “rude, terrible person.”

“You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” he said, later adding, “When you report fake news, which CNN does, a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

After the press conference, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands” on the White House intern and cited the incident as the reason for why his media access was being revoked.

At Wednesday’s courtroom hearing, Kelly pressed the government on the accuracy of Sanders’s assertion that Acosta had placed his hands on the intern.

“You have no position on the accuracy of that statement?” he asked.

The Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and the White House Correspondents’ Association in court reiterated the network’s argument that the government’s retaliatory action against Acosta will have a chilling effect on the media given Trump’s threat that there “could be others” who lose their credentials.

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