In yet another blow to the Trump administration, on Friday a federal judge ordered that the White House reinstate the press badge of CNN’s Jim Acosta. In a heated post-midterms presser last week, President Donald Trump butted heads with Acosta over questions about the migrant caravan and Mueller probe that resulted in one of the most baffling moments of his presidency thus far.
“You are a rude, terrible person, you shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Trump literally told a member of the free press. Later that day, Acosta was banned reentry to the White House on grounds that he supposedly put his hands on the aide trying to wrestle the mic away from him; a claim White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed up using clearly doctored video evidence.
Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly, who was appointed by Trump, granted a request to temporarily reverse Acosta’s suspension until a decision can be reached in the ongoing case between CNN and the White House. The cable news network brought the lawsuit against Trump and his top aides earlier this week, claiming that the White House had violated both CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights in issuing the suspension.
Kelly’s ruling was made not on the First Amendment, but the Fifth Amendment in that Acosta had not been presented with the due process which is legally required to revoke his pass. Furthermore, it seems no one in the White House can even seem to come up with a solid reason for the suspension — which the judge described as “shrouded in mystery.”
He left open the possibility, however, that the White House could seek to revoke it again if it provided that due process, emphasizing the “very limited” nature of his ruling and saying he was not making a judgment on the First Amendment claims that CNN and Acosta have made.
Kelly separately said that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ initial claim that Acosta had inappropriately touched the White House intern who was attempting to take the microphone from him at the news conference was “likely untrue” and “partly based on evidence of questionable accuracy.”
CNN released a statement shortly after Friday’s ruling, issuing thanks to those who support a “free, strong and independent American press.”
Indeed, it would appear that this is a small win for our increasingly fraught American democracy, and many took to Twitter to celebrate.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged the ruling in a statement and agreed to temporarily reinstate Acosta’s pass, but noted that the White House is planning to develop rules and processes to “ensure fair and orderly press conferences” in the future. “There must be decorum at the White House,” she added, which we can all take with an iceberg-sized grain of salt.