White House lawyers fired back at CNN Wednesday, asking a federal court to dismiss the network's claim that revocation of Jim Acosta's press pass violated the Constitution.
The Trump administration's motion said Acosta “disrupted the fair and orderly administration of a press conference” when he refused to give up the microphone last week during a heated confrontation with President Trump. Acosta’s “hard pass” – which allows expedited access to the White House -- was revoked hours later. CNN filed the federal lawsuit against the Trump administration on Tuesday, demanding that it be restored.
CNN claimed pulling Acosta’s access violated his First Amendment right and Fifth Amendment rights to due process – but the Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the lawsuit “more grandstanding from CNN." In a 28-page response, White House lawyers put legalese behind Sanders' charge.
“No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House and the President need not survive First Amendment scrutiny whenever he exercises his discretion to deny an individual journalist one of the many hundreds of passes granting on-demand access to the White House complex,” the motion stated.
The White House also claimed CNN and Acosta did “not demonstrate the type of irreparable injury necessary” for their claim..
The Trump Administration pointed out that CNN has “roughly” 50 other staffers who retain hard passes to the White House, which enables the network to continue reporting on the president.
“The public interest does not require that Mr. Acosta be given immediate access to the White House complex. The public can benefit from his reporting from outside the complex during preliminary injunction briefing, and is additionally well-served by the numerous other journalists who retain their hard passes and who will continue to tenaciously ask questions at press events, just as they have done since the revocation of Mr. Acosta’s pass,” the White House said.
CNN cited Sherrill v. Knight – a 1977 U.S. Court of Appeals case that found The Nation White House reporter Robert Sherrill – who had his credential request denied – deserved an opportunity to respond and that content-based criteria for press pass issuance would be prohibited.
But the White House legal team countered that revoking Acosta’s pass was permissible, because his disruptive conduct "impedes other reporters from asking questions provides a more-than-sufficient reason for revoking his hard pass.”
Earlier Wednesday, Fox News President Jay Wallace issued a statement about the situation.
“Fox News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential. We intend to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. 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,” Wallace said.