A federal district judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to reinstate press credentials for Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by President Trump, granted CNN’s request to restore the press pass for Acosta, giving him regular access to the White House grounds to cover events and press conferences.
“I want to emphasize the very limited nature of this ruling,” Kelly said Friday in granting the temporary restraining order in favor of CNN.
He did not rule on whether the administration’s decision to revoke Acosta’s press pass violated the First Amendment rights of CNN and Acosta. Instead, Kelly said that Acosta and his employer have shown that they are likely to succeed in their argument that their Fifth Amendment rights to due process were violated by the White House.
The White House revoked Acosta’s pass last week after a contentious exchange with Trump during a televised press conference the day after the midterm elections. The cable network argued that the Trump administration’s move violated the First Amendment rights of both CNN and Acosta.
The courtroom showdown overseen by Kelly could have a grave effect on journalists’ rights to access the White House and cover the administration.
At Wednesday’s courtroom hearing, Kelly pressed the government on the accuracy of Sanders’s assertion that Acosta had placed his hands on the intern.
“You have no position on the accuracy of that statement?” he asked.
Without credentialed access to the White House or Trump on the road, CNN argued, Acosta can’t do his job.
Kelly ruled on Friday that Acosta has already suffered harm from not being able to cover the White House in the time since his press credentials were revoked. The judge said that sending another reporter with a hard pass does not make the harm to Acosta any less irreparable.
Kelly asked during Wednesday’s hearing if there was a less-restrictive way that the White House could have reprimanded Acosta, perhaps by letting him keep his pass while prohibited him from attending press conferences.
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