The White House told CNN correspondent Jim Acosta it still plans to revoke his security credentials, CNN said Monday, showing the Trump administration is not backing down in its battle with the network.
A judge temporarily restored Acosta’s White House security pass on Friday. But in a letter to the network, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine said they still intend to suspend Acosta’s White House pass when the judge’s order expires.
CNN’s outside counsel Ted Boutrous on Monday asked the court for an emergency hearing the week after Thanksgiving in hopes the judge would reinstate Acosta’s “hard pass” — the security badge that lets White House reporters freely enter and exit the grounds — for a longer period of time while the lawsuit moves forward. The letter from the White House was included in court documents filed Monday.
“The @WhiteHouse is continuing to violate the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution,” CNN said in a statement posted to Twitter Monday. “These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. @Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and @realDonaldTrump.”
Acosta had his press credentials suspended following a fiery exchange with President Donald Trump in a news conference on Nov. 7, during which he resisted when a White House intern attempted to take a microphone out of his hands. The White House initially claimed, using an apparently altered video as evidence, that he inappropriately touched the intern. Officials later changed their rationale to say that Acosta had breached unwritten standards of decorum for the press.
On Friday, District Court Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that Acosta’s due process rights had been violated because the White House had not given him any explanation of why his credentials were being revoked, nor had they given him a chance to appeal. He ordered the White House to reinstate the hard pass for two weeks. Kelly was careful to note that he had not based his decision on any First Amendment grounds.
The White House said Friday that it would create a set of formal rules for journalists. But officials also sent notice to Acosta saying they still planned to revoke his press pass over his prior behavior and gave him a chance to contest the decision. That appears to be an attempt to create a paper trail to avoid the same due process criticisms in the future.
Trump, in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace over the weekend, said that the White House was currently working on “rules and regulations” that would govern the conduct of journalists, calling Friday’s legal developments “not a big deal.”
“We’ll have rules of decorum, you know, you can’t keep asking questions,” he said. “Look, nobody believes in the First Amendment more than I do. And if I think somebody’s acting out of sorts, I will leave. I’ll say, ‘Thank you very much everybody, I appreciate you coming,’ and I will leave.”
Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to the president, argued Monday on Fox News that the White House continues to hold the belief that that reporters “don’t have a First Amendment right to be in the White House,” adding that “once you are allowed in, of course, then there needs to be a process.”
She predicted that the White House press shop would unveil its new guidelines “in a few days or weeks” and that they would likely call for reporters to “show respect for the presidency and decorum for the White House.”
Boutrous said in the court filing Monday morning that while CNN hoped to resolve the issue of Acosta’s press pass out of court, he felt an emergency hearing was necessary “in light of Defendants’ stated intentions.”