White House Responds To Court's Order To Temporarily Restore Acosta's Press Pass

Update 2: The White House says it will temporarily reinstate Acosta's press pass. 

"Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House. In response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter's hard pass.

We will also further develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future.

There must be decorum at the White House"

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Update 1: Acosta said in a Friday press conference "Let's get back to work." 

The battle over Jim Acosta's press pass has been temporarily won by CNN after a federal judge ordered the White House to immediately restore the journalist's access, following a Nov. 7 White House altercation which resulted in the revocation of Acosta's credentials. 

Trump-appointed Judge Timothy J. Kelly acknowledged that the White House credentialing process has a First Amendment component, and that the government must give Acosta due process before revoking his press pass. 

Kelly then criticized the Justice Department's defense of how it revoked Acosta's pass, and said that the White House's account of Acosta "placing hands" on a White House intern was of "questionable accuracy." 

CNN sought "emergency relief" from the court on the grounds that Acosta's First Amendment rights are being violated every day he is banned from the White House grounds. 

The network, pointing to instances where Trump has criticized Acosta and CNN, also sought "permanent relief," or a declaration from Judge Kelly that President Trump's revocation of Acosta's press pass violated the constitution. If successful, this legal conculsion could have wide ranging implications for other White House reporters. 

CNN, represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Theodore Boutrous, pointed to instances where Trump publicly criticized Acosta and CNN as “fake news.” Kelly appeared to question whether the decision to revoke Acosta’s credentials was driven by the content of his coverage—raising First Amendment issues—or instead by his conduct at a press conference on Nov. 7, which the White House cited as the reason.

“Why now,” after previously criticizing Acosta’s coverage, was the White House revoking Acosta’s press pass? Kelly asked Boutrous.

Boutrous recalled that Trump described Acosta as “rude” for refusing to hand over a microphone and yield to other reporters at last week’s press conference. “‘Rudeness’ is really a codeword for ‘I don’t like you being an aggressive reporter,’” said Boutrous, who was joined in court by a Gibson Dunn team including Theodore Olson, a partner at the firm and former solicitor general under the George W. Bush administration.

Justice Department attorney James Burnham defended the White House’s decision, saying the move was based on Acosta’s conduct and not content. He told Kelly: “A single journalist’s attempt to monopolize a press conference is not a viewpoint.” Burnham said CNN has about 50 other employees with so-called “hard passes” to access the White House. -law.com

Earlier this month while asking Trump about a northbound migrant caravan making its way to the southern US border, Acosta challenged Trump's characterization of the group as an "invasion." 

Acosta asked "Why did you characterize it as such?" to which Trump replied "because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion." 

"Do you think that you demonized immigrants?" Acosta shot back. 

"Not at all, no - not at all," Trump replied. "I want them to come into the country, but they have to come in legally. You know, they have to come in Jim through a process. And I want people to come in, and we need the people."

Acosta then questioned Trump on an midterm advertisement showing "migrants climbing over walls and so-on," to which Trump fired back: "They weren't actors." 

After more barbs were exchanged between the two, Trump said: "Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better." 

Acosta then refused to sit down, leading to a standoff in which a White House aide tried to take his microphone.

Acosta's press pass was pulled shortly thereafter, while controversy erupted over whether or not White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had released a doctored version of a video showing Acosta brushing a White House aide's arm away.