The Trump administration got themselves yet another legal headache last week when they pulled prominent CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass allowing him access to the White House. With their ramshackle defense easily challenged, Acosta’s network has now filed a lawsuit against the administration alleging a violation of Acosta’s First Amendment rights. In their efforts, they’re represented by prominent Republican lawyer Ted Olson, who’d served as solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration and reportedly rebuffed a push for him to join President Donald Trump’s own legal team.
‘The Supreme Court has held in no uncertain terms that the First Amendment protects ‘robust political debate,’ including ‘speech that is critical of those who hold public office.’ Mr. Acosta’s press credentials must be restored so that all members of the press know they will remain free to ask tough questions, challenge government officials, and report the business of the nation to the American people.’
Full statement from CNN and attorney Ted Olson on the lawsuit. pic.twitter.com/kRO9Bt3vam
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) November 13, 2018
There’d previously been talk of CNN filing a lawsuit against the administration, and that finally came to fruition Tuesday morning in D.C. District Court. The lawsuit names six defendants, including President Donald Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, communications official and former Fox News executive Bill Shine, Secret Service director Joseph Clancy, and the Secret Service officer who actually took Acosta’s credential this past Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the journalist had ended up in yet another war of words with the president. At his post-midterm elections press conference, Acosta had pressed him on issues including his denunciation of a caravan of migrants coming from Central America as an “invasion” even though it’s a group including plenty of women and children who are hardly approaching the U.S. at a brisk rate.
Trump wasn’t having the questioning, and he resorted to childish insults against Acosta, who he called a “rude, terrible person” that CNN should be ashamed of employing. During the back and forth, an intern sought to take Acosta’s microphone, and the journalist politely refused — but the administration got inspiration to accuse Acosta of assault from that interaction.
They sought to defend their claim through means including a video of the interaction Sarah Sanders shared that had been doctored — by InfoWars — to make Acosta look far more aggressive that he actually was.
That “defense” fell apart, however, thanks to the president himself and Ms. Alternative Facts, otherwise known as Kellyanne Conway.
Trump, speaking to reporters in the days following the incident, asserted more journalists could have their access revoked if they weren’t “respectful” enough — basically confirming that’s what it was all about in the first place. Those words might come back to bite the administration in the course of CNN’s lawsuit, as other presidential rhetorical fumbles have in similar situations in the past.
Soon after, during an appearance on Fox News, Kellyanne Conway asserted the original video Sanders had shared was sped up but not doctored — as if that distinction makes any sense to anyone, anywhere, outside of their staunchest ideological base.
Acosta might be well on his way to getting his press access to the White House back.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot