Tuesday, 23 April 2019

CNN sues over barring of reporter, White House vows vigorous defense

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

NEW YORK: A federal judge will hold a hearing Wednesday on CNN’s lawsuit against Donald Trump’s administration alleging the White House violated correspondent Jim Acosta’s constitutional rights by revoking his press credentials following a heated exchange with the US president.

The White House dismissed CNN’s complaint as “grandstanding” and vowed to “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit.

The row on live national television and Acosta’s resulting banishment triggered a wave of accusations that Trump is stifling the free press, and marked a sharp escalation in tensions between the president and CNN, a frequent target of his ire.

“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” the news network said in a statement announcing the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington.

CNN asked for a temporary restraining order, warning that Acosta’s credential suspension could set a precedent for future attacks on other outlets.

“If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials,” it said.

US District Judge Timothy Kelly ordered the Trump administration to respond by 11:00 am (1600 GMT) on Wednesday and set a hearing for 3:30 pm.

Kelly, a former chief counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee, was appointed to the bench by Trump last year.

The White House had suspended Acosta’s hard pass after he sparred at a news conference with the president, who demanded that the reporter yield the microphone and called him a “rude, terrible person” when he did not immediately comply.

Acosta pushed back with more questions and a White House intern tried to take the microphone from the CNN journalist – an incident the Trump administration characterized as misconduct against the woman.

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