White House restores access for CNN’s Acosta, ending legal fight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Monday restored press access for CNN reporter Jim Acosta, ending a legal fight that had so far gone against the Trump administration.

Cable News Network (CNN) Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta departs after a judge temporarily restored Acosta’s White House press credentials following a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the press pass for Acosta, which was revoked after a contentious Nov. 7 news conference with President Donald Trump, was restored but that reporters who ignored new rules for news conferences could have their credentials taken away.

Under the rules, “a journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists,” but a follow-up question may be permitted at the president’s discretion, Sanders said.

CNN, a frequent target of Trump’s criticism of the news media, said in a statement its lawsuit challenging the White House’s actions was no longer necessary.

Earlier on Monday, the cable news network had sought an emergency federal court hearing after the White House said it would again revoke Acosta’s pass once a temporary restraining order reinstating it for a two-week period expired.

Acosta’s credentials were revoked after Trump denounced him as a “rude, terrible person” during a news conference the day after Trump’s Republicans lost their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in congressional elections.

Trump had erupted into anger when Acosta questioned him about the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and a migrant caravan traveling through Mexico, telling Acosta: “That’s enough, that’s enough,” as a White House staffer tried to take the microphone away from the correspondent.

CNN challenged the press pass revocation in court, arguing it violated Acosta’s First Amendment right to free speech, as well as the due process clause of the Constitution providing fair treatment through judicial and administrative process.

In temporarily restoring Acosta’s credentials, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said last Friday that the White House had failed to provide due process. He did not address any alleged First Amendment violations.

In court, U.S. government lawyers said there was no First Amendment right of access to the White House and that Acosta was penalized for acting rudely at the news conference and not for his criticism of the president.

Trump, who has long blasted the media, and often targeted Acosta, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the judge’s decision was “not a big deal” and that the White House would establish rules for the press.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Mohammad Zargham and Jan Wolfe; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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