Floyd Abrams, the First Amendment attorney who helped beat the U.S. government in the Pentagon Papers case, says CNN should sue the White House for revoking reporter Jim Acosta‘s press pass.
“Let me put it this way,” he said on Sunday’s episode of Reliable Sources. “I can understand CNN being reluctant to sue because the president keeps saying CNN is the enemy of me, and CNN might have some reluctance to have a lawsuit titled ‘CNN vs. Donald Trump.’ That said, yes, I think they should sue and if it’s not about Acosta, this is going to happen again.”
Abrams is father of Law&Crime founder Dan Abrams.
This comes after Acosta’s tense exchange with President Donald Trump in a question over immigration and the so-called “caravan” migrants. POTUS dismissed his question, and cut him off. The White House revoked Acosta’s press pass, and claimed his put his hands on the female intern who tried to take his microphone.
President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern…
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
But some called out the White House for exaggerating this exchange.
I’ve watched this video 30 times. Acosta never touched this woman. https://t.co/NNcKxdPM2t
— Julie Rendelman Esq. (@julie_rendelman) November 8, 2018
On Sunday, Floyd Abrams said CNN would have a strong case if they sued. He mentioned that the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia previously ruled that to revoke a press pass, White House officials must provide notice, give the reporter a chance to respond, and write an opinion to describe and explain their decision.
“We’ve had none of those things here,” Abrams said. He suggested that even if CNN didn’t sue now, anyone else who did would “win on less.”
The attorney has previously suggested that reporters consider suing Trump for defamation.
The D.C. case in question, Sherrilll v. Knight, was decided in 1977, and involved reporter Robert Sherrill. He was denied a press pass based on the recommendation of the Secret Service. Officials refused to tell him why, according to the opinion.
Law&Crime reached out to CNN, and asked whether the network plans on suing the White House.
“No decisions have been made,” said a spokesperson in an emailed statement. “We have reached out to the White House and gotten no response.”
Note: Updated with a response from CNN.
[Screengrab via CNN]