iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration defended revoking CNN chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta' press pass in new legal arguments filed Wednesday, just hours before an emergency court hearing in which CNN will seek to have Acosta’s credentials immediately reinstated.
Acosta’s credentials were taken away because he “disrupted the fair and orderly administration of a press conference during an exchange with the president,” wrote Department of Justice lawyers, arguing on behalf of the president.
The DOJ attorneys also denied that the president revoked Acosta’s credentials because of reporting from Acosta and CNN that the White House didn’t like, despite the president’s open criticism of CNN as “fake news” and an “enemy of the people,” as well as calling Acosta a "disgrace."
“Mr. Acosta’s decision to engage in conduct that disrupts press events and impedes other reporters from asking questions provides a more-than-sufficient reason for revoking his hard pass,” the president’s attorneys wrote.
“Acosta continued his refusal to permit another journalist to ask a question, ignoring both the stated wishes of the President and the efforts of a staffer tasked with helping to manage an event,” they wrote.
The brief focused largely on Acosta’s “disrupt[tions]” during the press conference rather than a previous explanation by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, which CNN promptly denied, that Acosta had placed his hands on an intern who tried to take away his microphone.
Trump’s attorneys also argued that his decision to revoke Acosta’s access does not violate the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of the press and prohibits the government from retaliating against individuals who speak out, because the First Amendment doesn’t “restrict the president’s ability to determine the terms on which he does, or does not, engage with particular journalists.”
The White House has made a similar argument in days past: "No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House," the White House said.
Trump’s attorneys argued it would be “extraordinary” for the court to decide to “directly police access to the secure White House complex where the president lives and works, as well as to dictate who the President must invite to press events.”
CNN and Acosta filed an emergency motion to have Acosta’s press pass immediately reinstated as the court case continues and have asked for a ruling from Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly in federal court in Washington Wednesday afternoon.
CNN and Acosta filed suit against President Donald Trump and top aides on Tuesday for stripping Acosta, without warning, of his access to the White House, where he works daily. The indefinite revocation of Acosta’s press credentials, known as a “hard pass,” came on the heels of a heated exchange between Trump and Acosta on Nov. 7.
Many individual journalists who attended the press conference shared personal accounts and spoke out in his defense after Acosta’s credentials were revoked.
Major news outlets also joined together to issue a statement in support of Acosta and CNN Tuesday and said they would be filing briefs in the court case.
“Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy, or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions. It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the President and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons,” read a statement issued by The Associated Press, NBC News, FOX News, POLITICO, The New York Times, The Washington Post and more.
“Our news organizations support the fundamental constitutional right to question this President, or any President. We will be filing friend-of-the-court briefs to support CNN’s and Jim Acosta’s lawsuit based on these principles,” the statement continued.
The statement echoed one from the White House Correspondents' Association, which criticized the Trump White House decision and supported CNN.
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