The Trump administration on Wednesday pushed back against CNN’s request to immediately reinstate reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass, arguing that reporters do not have a Constitutional right to enter the White House.
The claim came in a Justice Department legal filing hours before a federal court hearing on CNN’s lawsuit over the White House’s decision to pull Acosta’s press pass after a heated exchange with President Trump
last week during a news conference.
“No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House,” three Justice Department lawyers wrote in the filing.
“The president and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences,” the lawyers continued.
The filing comes in response to CNN’s attempt to win a temporary restraining order from a federal judge that would immediately restore Acosta’s press pass. If CNN prevails, Acosta would be allowed back into the White House while the lawsuit proceeds.
CNN on Tuesday sued the Trump administration over Acosta’s credentials, which were suspended last week. The news network argued that revoking them violated the reporter’s First and Fifth Amendment rights to free speech and due process, respectively.
The legal actions have ratcheted up Trump’s long-running feud with the news media and could test the limits of his ability to crack down on reporters whose coverage he does not like. CNN, and Acosta in particular, have repeatedly found themselves between the president’s crosshairs.
“This severe and unprecedented punishment is the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting—an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view,” the news network alleges in its suit.
News organizations have banded together behind CNN. Fox News President Jay Wallace said in a statement his network will back CNN and plans to file a legal brief disputing the White House’s arguments.
The Associated Press, Bloomberg, Gannett, The New York Times and multiple other media organizations also plan to file amicus briefs backing the news network, they announced Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, will preside over Wednesday’s hearing at 3:30 p.m.
BY JORDAN FABIAN – 11/14/18