CNN announced on Tuesday that it was filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and five other administration officials, after the White House revoked correspondent Jim Acosta’s “hard pass” press credentials last week.
Both the network and Acosta himself are named as plaintiffs in the suit. Along with Trump, the suit names White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Communications Director Bill Shine, U.S. Secret Service head Joseph Clancy, and the unnamed Secret Service agent who physically revoked Acosta’s pass. The suit, filed in DC District Court, alleges that by blocking his press credentials, the White House violated CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.
The administration’s ham-fisted attempt to stifle Acosta is just the latest in a long series of clashes between the White House communications office and CNN’s frequently grandstanding correspondent. After Trump yelled that Acosta was a “rude, terrible person” during a press conference last week, Sanders’ office claimed Acosta had assaulted a White House staffer. She then released a clumsily doctored video alleging to show supposed assault (the video did not, of course, show anything of the kind).
In a statement announcing the lawsuit, CNN said the network:
...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.
In the lawsuit itself, CNN cited both Trump’s explicit threats against Acosta specifically, and journalists more generally:
While CNN and Acosta have been favorite targets of abuse by the administration, the President’s criticism has been directed at other news organizations too. The President has actively criticized and discredited any journalist or media outlet he believes might report something he considers negative. As the President explained to Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes: “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”
And the revocation of Acosta’s credentials is only the beginning; as the President explained, there “could be others also” who get their credentials revoked.
I have reached out to the White House for their response to the suit, and will update this story if they reply.
Update, 10:50 a.m.: The White House has responded to CNN’s lawsuit in a statement, calling it “grandstanding.”