It's been six days since the contentious White House press conference that raised eyebrows far beyond Washington D.C., and the conflict is anything but resolved. Speaking to CNN's Jim Acosta on Wednesday, Nov. 7, the president and the reporter took part in an exchange that ended in the White House revoking the reporter's press pass. Now, CNN is suing Donald Trump over banning Jim Acosta, alleging that taking away his pass amounts to a violation of his First and Fifth Amendment rights as a member of the press. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the subject.
At the Nov. 7 press conference, a line of questioning by Acosta led to an aide attempting to take away Acosta's microphone, which he resisted. After the event, Acosta's credentials, including the "hard pass" issued by the Secret Service which allows reporters regular access to the White House, were revoked, a move that drew widespread criticism. In a tweet that same day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern," in reference to the aide who attempted to take away the microphone. She also shared an allegedly doctored video showing Acosta refusing to surrender the microphone and omitting his statement of "pardon me, ma'am" during the incident. CNN, in a statement at the time, defended Acosta and said that the revocation was "done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference." The White House did not return a request for comment on the video or CNN's statement.
The lawsuit describes numerous instances of Trump's alleged animosity towards CNN, its reporters, and the media, including the press conference and loss of access. By revoking Acosta's hard pass, CNN alleges, the reporter is severely hindered from doing his job — and delivering in a timely and accurate way critical information to its readers and viewers.
Because CNN's chief White House correspondent has effectively been prohibited from reporting from the White House and the president's trips, its newsgathering and reporting abilities have been significantly hampered, causing harm not just to CNN, but also to its many viewers and readers who rely on CNN as an essential news source.
Elite Daily reached out to CNN, its attorneys bringing the case, and the White House for comment on the lawsuit but did not hear back by time of publication.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are looking for a few things: for Acosta's press pass to be restored (or an explanation as to why it isn't); an admission that revoking his press pass was unconstitutional, and finally, footing the bill for any legal fees they've racked up by going to court.
The press conference incident preceding the revocation of Acosta's pass has become the subject of much contention, as Sanders was accused of sharing a "doctored" version of the footage to make it appear as though Acosta was more aggressive towards the young woman reaching for the microphone. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the video but did not hear back. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the video as a "sped up" version akin to a sports replay. Now, the White House is defending the revocation by saying that Acosta's conduct amounted to monopolizing the press conference, saying that his behavior "impedes" the press conference.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement said that Acosta had "physically refused to surrender" his microphone, and added :
The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional. The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.
The White House plans to "vigorously defend" the lawsuit, Sanders said. The response is already drawing criticism.
Twitter was abuzz with the lawsuit news, with many vocalizing their support for Acosta and his network.
Some legal experts have already begun to weigh in with confidence about the strength of CNN's case.
The case, too, is about more than just Acosta. "While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone," CNN says in a statement. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."
It's not clear at this point how the White House — or the president, for that matter — will respond legally as the case moves forward. As of writing, at least, Trump hasn't mentioned it on social media.