CNN is suing President Trump and several of his aides, seeking to have White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials restored after he was banned for tussling with an intern during a heated news conference, the network said Tuesday.
The lawsuit — which is being filed in US District Court in Washington, DC — alleges that the White House suspension of Acosta’s “hard pass” violates his and CNN’s First Amendment rights, according to CNN.
In addition to Trump, the other defendants are Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy and the Secret Service officer who yanked Acosta’s pass.
The six are all named because of their roles in enforcing and announcing Acosta’s suspension.
The White House, which said it pulled Acosta’s pass “until further notice,” accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern” during his heated exchange with the president last week.
The intern moved to take the microphone from Acosta, but he pulled it back while continuing to question the president, saying, “Pardon me, ma’am.”
Trump scolded the reporter when he asked him about the migrant caravan and the Russia investigation.
“I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” Trump told Acosta.
He added: “That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough — put down the mic.”
Sanders later tweeted a video clip of the altercation between Acosta and the young woman in which his arm motion appeared to be sped up to make it more jarring.
“Absolutely shameful, @PressSec. You released a doctored video – actual fake news. History will not be kind to you,” CNN Matt’s Dornic, vice president of communications and digital partnerships, tweeted last week.
The White House has defended the video, but did not address claims that it got it from far-right-wing website InfoWars.
On Tuesday, Sanders called the lawsuit “just more grandstanding from CNN,” saying in a statement that the White House will “vigorously defend” itself against it.
“After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters,” she said.
On Friday, CNN sent a letter to the White House requesting the immediate reinstatement of Acosta’s credentials and warning of a possible lawsuit, the network confirmed.
In a statement Tuesday, CNN said it is seeking a preliminary injunction so Acosta can return to the White House right away, and a court ruling preventing the White House from revoking his pass again.
“While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone,” the network said. “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”
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