CNN Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who had his press credentials suspended by the administration of President Donald Trump earlier this month after a testy exchange between the reporter and the chief executive, won temporary relief to continue covering events at the White House on Friday.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the ruling, making clear that while the White House will restore Acosta’s press credentials, the official opinion of the administration is that there isn’t an inherent right for journalists to be granted access to the executive residence.
“Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House,” Sanders said in a statement, according to a tweet from The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs. “In response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass.”
Sanders also made clear that the debate over who could report on the president wouldn’t end here.
“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,” Sanders said.
The ruling from Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, seems to contradict, at least in part, Sanders’ statement.
For instance, Kelly found that Acosta, in losing his press credentials, suffered “irreparable harm” to his First Amendment freedom of the press rights, according to reporting from CBS News. The administration’s argument that another reporter could stand in place for Acosta wasn’t a reasonable argument either, in Kelly’s perspective.
Kelly also found in his temporary ruling that Acosta was never given a fair warning about what could constitute a removal of his press credentials. Without that warning, Acosta’s Fifth Amendment due process rights were violated.
Acosta further wasn’t given the right to argue his case to the White House to ask for reinstatement of his credentials after they were revoked. “The need for the opportunity to be heard seems especially important in this case,” Kelly said in his opinion Friday.
The ruling by Judge Kelly granting Acosta access back to the White House is temporary. CNN had sought temporary relief in the interim period between now and when a separate court hearing is set to occur, determining the permanent resolution to the debate.
Acosta was grateful on Friday when news of his credentials being reinstated reached him.
“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 previous reporting from the Inquisitr.
Contrary to what many may believe, press access to the White House is not actually determined by the administration — the president does not pick and choose who gets to report on him or his administration in the executive residence. Rather, a process that involves getting congressional credentials from a standing committee of reporters, a Secret Service background check, and providing evidence that a journalist works for a news organization that is not a lobbyist or special interest group allow reporters access to the president and his subordinates.