On Friday, a federal judge granted a request for a temporary restraining order requested by CNN, which restored the press pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta. The restraining order was part of a larger lawsuit that CNN filed against President Trump and his White House aides. The judge, Timothy J. Kelly, did not rule on the larger case but expressed his opinion that CNN would likely win. In brief remarks after the ruling, Acosta said it was time for him to get back to work, and it is expected that Acosta will be back at the White House today in order to report in several big stories.
The basis for the ruling was that the White House violated Acosta’s Fifth Amendment rights to due process when they revoked his press pass. Kelly hinted that he didn’t fully agree with CNN’s arguments and but said “I must apply precedent as I see it.” Kelly also suggested that the White House could once again revoke Acosta’s press pass only if they provided the journalist due process. He was careful to emphasize that he was not ruling on any of the larger merits of the case where CNN claims the White House has violated their First Amendment rights. There will be further hearings in the upcoming weeks before a final decision is made.
Acosta initially had his press pass taken away after a press conference with President Trump. A White House intern approached Acosta, who was asking a follow up question, and attempted to take a microphone away from him. Later, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, posted an altered video that was sped up to claim that Acosta had assaulted the intern. The federal judge stated that he believed this accusation was “likely untrue” and was “partly based on evidence of questionable accuracy.”
CNN had tried to privately work with the White House after the incident and press pass revocation. But they eventually filed their suit on Tuesday with Trump, Sanders, and chief of staff John Kelley as defendants. The lawyers for the administration have argued that they have the legal right to remove and ban any reporter from the White House for any reason. Various other new organizations, including Fox News, have submitted court briefs supporting CNN. The White House Correspondents’ Association has also backed CNN in the lawsuit and have stated their fear of the White House abusing their power to prevent journalists from doing their jobs.