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White House on CNN Lawsuit: ‘This Is Just More Grandstanding’

A White House intern tries to take the microphone from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta at the White House in Washington, D.C., November 7, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

The White House responded Tuesday to CNN’s lawsuit objecting to the revocation of White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials by accusing the network of engaging in a shameless publicity stunt.

In a suit filed Tuesday in a Washington, D.C. district court alleging the White House violated Acosta’s First Amendment rights when it revoked his “hard pass” after he disrupted a press conference last week by refusing to surrender his microphone.

“This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit. . . . The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The suit lists Huckabee Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine, the U.S. Secret Service, its director, and the unnamed agent who confiscated Acosta’s pass as defendants. In a statement announcing its filing, CNN claimed that, while Acosta is a frequent target of the administration, the confiscation of his credentials could “have happened to anyone.”

“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,” the statement reads. “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.”  

Acosta was initially barred from the White House after engaging in a heated exchange with Trump during a press conference the day after the midterm elections, in which he objected to Trump’s characterization of an incoming caravan of Central American migrants as an “invasion” and physically prevented a female intern from confiscating his microphone.

Trump responded by calling Acosta a “rude and terrible person” and Huckabee Sanders later accused him of putting “his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.” 

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