Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) celebrated a federal judge’s decision on Friday to force the Trump administration to reinstate CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass.
“I don’t think the president of the United States — any president — should be picking who is reporting what’s going on in the White House or who’s covering it,” O’Rourke told TMZ in an interview on Friday.
“Look, I think the press, far from being the enemy of the people, is the best defense against tyranny,” he continued. “It’s fundamental to our democracy being successful, to all of us making informed decisions at the ballot box, knowing how those who are representing us are using the public trust and public resources.”
“Yeah, I think you just don’t mess with that,” he added.
His remarks came hours after U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by President Trump, temporarily granted CNN’s request to reinstate Acosta’s press credentials.
“I will grant the application for the temporary restraining order I order the [government] reinstate the pass.” Judge Kelly said on Friday.
The White House revoked Acosta’s “hard pass,” which grants him regular access to the White House grounds to cover events and press conferences, last week after a fiery back-and-forth exchange with Trump during a televised press conference the day after the midterm elections.
CNN’s lawsuit, announced Tuesday, argues that CNN and Acosta’s free press and due process rights under the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution had been violated by Trump and five other members of his administration, as well as by the U.S. Secret Service. The other defendants include chief of staff John Kelly, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy chief of staff Bill Shine and Secret Service Director Randolph Alles.
CNN was asking the court for an order that would temporarily reverse the White House’s suspension of Acosta’s hard pass until a final decision on the lawsuit was reached. CNN also wants “a declaration that the revocation of Acosta’s press credentials was unconstitutional.”
The network had asked Judge Kelly to quickly rule on the request for a temporary restraining order, arguing that “every day that passes without Acosta regaining his press credentials is a concrete injury.”
Kelly said he has not determined if the First Amendment was violated in their case, but said Acosta and CNN were likely to succeed in their argument that their Fifth Amendment rights to due process were violated by the administration.
The White House later issued a statement saying it would temporarily reinstate Acosta’s press pass but said it would impose new rules, insisting “there must be decorum at the White House.”