CNN and reporter Jim Acosta are suing President Donald Trump and several officials over the White House’s decision to suspend Acosta’s press pass—known as a “hard pass”—following a Wednesday incident involving the reporter, the president, and a White House intern.
The complaint, which notes that “CNN and Acosta have been favorite targets of abuse by the administration,” claims that the move violated Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. The lawsuit is asking a judge to grant a preliminary injunction that would allow Acosta to have access pending the outcome of the case.
The cable network reported that they sent the White House a letter on Friday requesting that Acosta be reinstated, warning that they could sue if this didn’t happen.
Acosta and Trump have had a tumultuous relationship that came to a head last week, when the reporter continued to speak despite Trump’s insistence that his time was up. A White House intern then approached Acosta to take the microphone away from him, leading to Acosta appearing to try to knock her arm away from him. The White House later accused him of acting inappropriately, while Acosta’s defenders blasted the White House for exaggerating his behavior and spreading a video of the incident where the speed had been altered to make his actions seem worse.
The lawsuit names as defendants President Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, the director of the Secret Service, and the Secret Service officer who revoked Acosta’s pass.
Attempts to reach the White House for comment were unsuccessful.
“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,” CNN said in a statement. “We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”
Ted Boutrous, one of the attorneys representing CNN, had strong words for the president prior to joining the case.
“This sort of angry, irrational, false, arbitrary, capricious content-based discrimination regarding a White House press credential against a journalist quite clearly violates the First Amendment,” he said.
After Acosta first tweeted that he had been denied access, Boutros posted a quote from the case of Sherrill v. Knight, stating, “White House press facilities having been made publicly available . . ., the protection afforded newsgathering under the first amendment . . . requires that this access not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons.”
Oliver Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said in a statement on the lawsuit:
The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly supports CNN’s goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place. Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday. We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent.
The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.
[Image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]