If you thought Judge Timothy Kelly‘s ruling on Friday in CNN’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump would result in a lull in the action as Jim Acosta‘s hard pass was temporarily restored, you thought wrong. Both sides have been engaging in a flurry of activity in the case since then, and none of it seems to have any hope of being productive when it comes to bringing this conflict to an end.
Headlines Monday morning have been all about how the White House told Acosta that they have every intention of suspending his hard pass again, as soon as the 14-day restraining order expires. Of course, this makes perfect sense if you’re the White House. The legal battle between them and the cable network isn’t over, with Judge Kelly’s ruling merely being a temporary measure. While he indicated that the White House is likely to lose based on a Fifth Amendment argument, this was not a final court decision, and the order to restore Acosta’s pass was temporary. By definition, that means that once it’s up, it’s expected that the White House would want to pull Acosta’s pass again, since that’s what they wanted to do in the first place.
Acosta’s attorney responded with a letter that acknowledged that the White House is currently working on drafting new rules and regulations for reporters to follow when attending press conferences. The letter also mentioned that CNN had quite the suggestion: they want a hand in writing them!
“CNN’s chief counsel suggested to your counsel,” the letter says, “that the parties use the 14-day TRO period to work with the White House and the White House Correspondents Association to formulate agreed-upon protocols for future press conferences.”
In what universe would CNN think President Trump would go for that? Why on earth should CNN have a say in what the White House’s rules are? I’m pretty sure that when Congress discusses drug laws they don’t consult the cartels.
I get the idea having the WHCA involved as a representation of reporters in general, and if the White House decided to consult with them I wouldn’t be mad at that. Having an individual network involved in the talks, however, is a different story. What if Fox News wanted to be involved in setting these rules, at the exclusion of other news outlets? People would rightly be furious; not just because Fox News is more sympathetic to Trump than others, but because no one news organization should have that kind of privilege.
I don’t blame CNN for trying. They are probably aware of how nuts this suggestion is, and they likely intended all along to have the White House refuse or ignore their suggestion so they have something to complain to the court about. If the White House surprisingly went for their suggestion, even better for them.
In the meantime, Acosta is arguing that the very fact that the White House is working on new policies is proof that they violated the Constitution when they originally pulled his pass. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Just because a party takes steps to avoid future litigation, that doesn’t mean that they’re conceding anything in the current case. It’s wise that the White House is looking to put a formal system in place, even if they didn’t break the law before.
Ronn Blitzer is the Senior Legal Editor of Law&Crime and a former New York City prosecutor. Follow him on Twitter @RonnBlitzer.
[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.