Judge rules lawsuit alleging Trump threatened free press can move forward

Source: The Hill | March 25, 2020 | Justin Wise

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that some of the claims in a literary advocacy group’s lawsuit against President Trump over his threats to retaliate against critical media coverage can proceed.

U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield wrote in a 24-page opinion that PEN America had a “constitutional standing” to pursue claims for declaratory relief against Trump’s practice of “selectively barring access” to the White House press corps, including by “revoking or threatening to revoke press credentials due to hostility to the reporters’ speech.”

Schofield also ruled that the case could proceed on allegations that Trump revoked or threatened to revoke security clearances for government officials he dislikes. 

The court granted Trump’s motion to dismiss claims that he initiated government actions against certain media companies, threatened to revoke broadcast licenses and interfered in White House press access. 

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The case will now move into the discovery phase, and PEN America will be allowed to obtain documents from the government to help substantiate its claims, the group said. 

“PEN America is profoundly grateful for the court’s timely decision,” the group’s president, Jennifer Egan, said in a statement. “Though we filed our lawsuit more than a year ago, the Trump administration’s punitive stance toward the press has continued unabated, with corrosive results for truth, fact, our democracy, and—most recently—public health.”

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