CNN is suing President Trump after the commander-in-chief revoked a reporter’s press credentials.
The lawsuit, writes CNN, is a response to the White House’s suspension of correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House press pass. Coveted and often called a “hard pass,” the credentials let journalists get close to the president with less hassle than would otherwise be required.
CNN filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning. It names CNN and Acosta as plaintiffs.
Among the six defendants are President Donald Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Two Secret Service officials are singled out, including the agent who seized Acosta’s pass last Wednesday.
“This is not a step we have taken lightly. But the White House action is unprecedented,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said in a statement to staff.
Sanders has since issued a formal response, accusing CNN of “grandstanding” and wasting resources on a single reporter.
“We have been advised that CNN has filed a complaint challenging the suspension of Jim Acosta’s hard pass. This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” Sanders said. “CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment.
“After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions,” Sanders said.
The White House has also claimed that Acosta may have pushed or otherwise grappled with the attendant tasked with reclaiming the microphone.
That’s how Sanders initially justified the decision to revoke Acosta’s hard pass, saying the administration would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”
The press secretary later released a video showing Acosta physically fending off the staff—that video was later called “doctored” by The Washington Post and Associated Press.
But CNN says the president and other Trump officials violated Jim Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights; their suit requests that a judge issue a restraining order to return the reporter’s hard pass immediately.
The White House Correspondents’ Association said it “strongly supports CNN’s goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place.”
Writing on its own website, CNN cautioned other news networks that any reporter could be mistreated, at any time, for challenging the president.
“While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone,” CNN claimed. “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”
President Trump, notes NPR, has a poor relationship with CNN. The commander-in-chief has repeatedly accused the media outlet, along with others, as an “Enemy of the People.”