Judge Sides with CNN in Dispute Over White House Access

November 16, 2018

By Carlo Versano

A federal judge made a limited ruling Friday that the White House must immediately restore press access to CNN correspondent Jim Acosta on Fifth Amendment grounds.

Federal Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed by President Trump, granted CNN's request for a temporary restraining order, which will allow Acosta to re-join the White House press corps, at least temporarily. Kelly did not issue a formal ruling on the case, which is expected to come after more hearings.

"This case is not over," Joe Concha, a media reporter for The Hill, told Cheddar Friday.

Judge Kelly did not make a decision one way or another on Acosta's First Amendment right to White House access. Rather, his ruling was based on the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The White House responded to the ruling in a statement that interpreted Kelly's decision to bypass the First Amendment issue as a win.

“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," the statement added.

President Trump expanded in an impromptu Q&A with reporters:

"We want total freedom of the press. It's more important to me than anybody would believe. But you have to act with respect when you're at the White House, and when I see the way some of my people get treated at news conferences, it's terrible.

The White House yanked Acosta's press pass following a series of back-and-forths between President Trump and the reporter that culminated in an explosive exchange at a press conference the day after the midterm elections.

At first, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said they pulled Acosta's pass because he had placed his hands on a White House intern who had attempted to take the microphone out of his hands. After that argument was challenged by Acosta's defenders, the White House's position evolved into a broader complaint about the reporter's overall behavior at press briefings.

Concha told Cheddar that eliminating the live feed of the daily briefing (which has become more of a weekly or biweekly briefing, of late), might limit grandstanding from both reporters and Trump Administration officials at the podium and cut down on confrontations.

That type of broader reform, however, appears unlikely. And with Acosta allowed back into the White House, Concha said the press office is likely to simply "box him out" of asking questions.

"I don't think this is going to change anything," Concha said of the ruling.

For full interview click here.