U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by President Trump, temporarily granted CNN’s request to reinstate press credentials for CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
“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.”
Justice Department lawyers argued in a court filing that suspending the pass was “lawful” and that the White House held “broad discretion to regulate” journalists’ access to the grounds.
Kelly pressed the government on the accuracy of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s public assertion that Acosta had placed his hands on a White House intern when refusing to surrender a microphone during the press conference, a reason the White House cited for why his media access was being revoked.
Kelly said that it was “likely untrue” that Acosta “laid hands” on a White House staffer.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week, and I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today,” Acosta said outside U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C on Friday morning.
“Let’s go back to work!” he added.
In a statement Friday, CNN and Acosta said they “look forward to a full resolution in the coming days.”
Statement from CNN and @Acosta on today’s ruling: “We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press.”
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 16, 2018
A group of major media organizations, including NBC News, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Fox News came out in favor of CNN and Acosta’s lawsuit against the Trump administration.
“It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the President and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons,” those outlets said in a joint statement. “Our news organizations support the fundamental constitutional right to question this President, or any President.”
“While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the president and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people,” Fox president Jay Wallace said in a statement.