- CNN filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his aides, Tuesday, for the administration’s revocation of Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass.
- The network said in a statement that the administration’s decision was a violation of his Constitutional rights.
- The suit was not previously announced, and first mentioned by former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson in a talk show appearance Sunday.
The network released a statement Tuesday morning that condemned the administration’s revocation of Acosta’s press pass as a violation of “Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process.”
A complaint was filed to the Washington, DC district court against Trump, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Deputy Communications Chief of Staff William Shine, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the United States Secret Service, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, and John Doe (the Secret Service agent that allegedly took Acosta’s pass).
The statement also says the network decided to pursue action because “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”
Several instances of Trump’s hits against CNN as “Fake News” on Twitter and in press conferences were listed in the complaint, which argued that the “real reason” Trump revoked Acosta’s press pass was because he didn’t like the network’s coverage.
The White House waved off the suit in a Tuesday morning statement, saying the network was “grandstanding” and the administration would “vigorously defend” against the complaint. The statement also suggested the administration was seeking to protect all reporters’ access, saying Acosta’s actions hindered an “orderly and fair press conference” and the decision to revoke the pass was a “check on this behaviour.”
The decision came hours after a tense standoff between Acosta and President Donald Trump during a press conference that ended with the administration accusing Acosta of “inappropriate behaviour” after a White House intern tried to grab a microphone out of his hand.
News of the suit was first suggested by former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, who told CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter on Sunday that he had been asked to sign an affidavit for the lawsuit and that a court hearing was slated for Tuesday.
In response to an inquiry about Donaldson’s comments, A CNN spokesperson told Business Insider: “No decisions have been made. We have reached out to the White House and gotten no response.”
Olivier Knox, White House Correspondents’ Association president, released a statement Tuesday morning in support of the suit, calling the White House’s decision to revoke Acosta’s pass a “disproportionate” reaction and that the “President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.”
In the same exchange, Trump lashed out at Acosta, ignoring his question about an immigrant caravan headed for the border to call him a “rude, terrible person.”
Experts and civil rights groups expressed doubts about the legality of the decision, as captured by The Atlantic, citing a legal precedent that had been set by a Washington, DC circuit court in 1977 that stated any reporter whose pass was revoked was entitled to proper notice and opportunity to appeal the decision.