CNN has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump and several of his top aides after the network's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, was banned from the White House following a heated exchange with the president

By Tierney McAfee
November 13, 2018 11:03 AM
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty; Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

CNN has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump and several of his top aides after the network’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, was banned from the White House following a heated exchange with the president.

The lawsuit alleges that Acosta and CNN’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by the ban, and seeks to restore Acosta’s press pass, which was suspended last Wednesday. The suit was filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., according to CNN.

Both CNN and Acosta are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, while the six defendants are: Trump, chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, the director of the Secret Service, and the Secret Service officer (referred to as John Doe, pending his identification) who took Acosta’s press pass away.

CNN said in a statement on Tuesday that “it demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. 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. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”

The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Sanders released a statement, saying: “We have been advised that CNN has filed a complaint challenging the suspension of Jim Acosta’s hard pass. This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit. CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment. After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions — each of which the President answered — he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.

“The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional,” the statement continued. “The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.”

Last Wednesday, Acosta was denied entry to the White House and had his press pass confiscated.

He documented the moment in a video shared on Twitter.

“The US Secret Service just asked for my credential to enter the WH. As I told the officer, I don’t blame him. I know he’s just doing his job,” Acosta tweeted.

The suspension came after the White House falsely claimed that Acosta “put hands on” a female White House intern as she tried to take the microphone away from him following a heated exchange with the president in a press conference. Acosta has denied this on Twitter writing, “This is a lie.”

Sanders came under fire for sharing an allegedly doctored video of the moment that contains no audio and replays a slow motion version of the incident.

Sanders defended the decision in a statement saying, “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.

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“The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it’s an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration,” Sanders continued in reference to CNN’s defense of Acosta.

CNN said in a statement at the time that the “President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far.”

“They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect free press, he has a worn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalist.”

White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox announced the organization’s support for the CNN lawsuit in a statement Tuesday.“The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly supports CNN’s goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place. 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,” the statement said.“The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.”