A federal judge has ruled that Jim Acosta, the Chief White House correspondent for CNN, can cover events at the White House for now, pending a trial in the future to determine if the White House can properly remove his press credentials at their own discretion.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly granted Acosta and CNN the right to temporarily restore the reporter’s press credentials to cover news related to President Donald Trump at the executive residence while the court hears arguments in a future trial related to the administration’s attempts to suspend them, per reporting from the Washington Post.
This was the first attempt by the White House to bar any reporter from covering the president.
The order from Judge Kelly was to happen immediately, meaning Acosta would be allowed to cover press junkets at the White House right away.
“I will order defendants immediately restore Mr. Acosta’s hard pass,” Kelly said in his opinion, per reporting from CNN’s Jessica Schneider, who wrote the judge’s ruling in a tweet.
The ruling is a blow to the Trump administration, especially given who the judge was that ruled in favor of Acosta’s press credentials being restored. According to reporting from ABC News, Kelly was appointed by the president himself.
Judge orders White House to restore press credential for CNN reporter Jim Acosta https://t.co/9AjlP6MOTH— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 16, 2018
Acosta’s response to the ruling was humble but thankful.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week, and I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today, and let’s go back to work,” he said, per a tweet from ABC News.
The decision on Friday is not permanent. A separate trial will commence at a later date to determine for certain whether the White House has the right to remove credentials from Acosta.
Per previous reporting from the Inquisitr, the Justice Department, in defending the White House’s decision to remove Acosta’s press access, said that “no journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House.”
The White House had tried to bar Acosta from reporting on its grounds following a contentious press conference involving an exchange between Acosta and Trump. During that exchange, an intern at the White House attempted to reach across Acosta’s body to grab the microphone from him as he was asking questions of the president. Their arms bumped during that reach.
The White House later released an allegedly doctored video that sped up the motion of Acosta’s arm during the interaction with the intern, making it seem as though he had made a “chopping” action when in fact it had appeared to be more accidental than that. The administration had tried to justify barring Acosta by saying he had put his hands on the intern in an inappropriate way.
Unknown to many, the press credentialing process at the White House is not actually done by the executive department itself. Rather, the process is threefold and doesn’t require the president or anyone in their administration to approve of a reporter to cover them, according to reporting from Foreign Policy.
First, a reporter must get credentialed for a congressional press pass by the Standing Committee of Correspondents. After that, they must demonstrate they work for a publication whose “principal business is the daily dissemination of original news and opinion of interest to a broad segment of the public,” and that they do not represent any organization that is an interest or lobbyist group in Washington. Finally, they must pass a Secret Service background check.