The White House backed down Monday in its battle over CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, deciding not to pursue its November 7 decision to ban him from the building.
White House correspondents from Fox News Channel and ABC News both tweeted the news Monday afternoon. The ABC reporter added that the Trump administration is reserving the right ‘to revoke Acosta’s pass if he violates White House decorum in the future.’
Acosta found himself without a press pass after a November 7 news conference in which he sparred with Donald Trump ans refused to surrender a microphone after the president tried to call on another journalist.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly issued a temporary restraining order against the White House on Friday, ordering it to restore Acosta’s access to the grounds for 14 days while the network’s larger constitutional law case proceeded.
The White House’s apparent stand-down came after CNN petitioned Judge Kelly for an expedited hearing, hoping to win a more permanent injunction before that order expired.
CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta will stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: The White House appeared to back off Monday from its efforts to ban him from the building, following 12 days of acrimony about his behavior during a November 7 press conference
President Donald Trump and Acosta got into an argument over immigration policy during the press conference, and Acosta refused to sit down and surrender the White House’s microphone after Trump moved on to take questions from another reporter
CNN media reporter Brian Stelter had reported just Sunday night that the White House was already planning to yank Acosta’s press credentials again on Nov. 30 when that order expires.
Instead the West Wing appears to be cutting its losses, recognizing that its failure to establish a formal procedure for a behavior-related suspension of a journalist’s ‘hard pass’ would hamper it in court.
‘There’s the sense that we made our point and it’s time to make this go away,’ a White House official said Monday morning, while declining to speak on specifics surrounding the case.
In a letter on Friday, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that by Monday at 3:00 p.m they would issue a ‘final’ decision about what they called a ‘preliminary’ revocation of Acosta’s press pass nearly two weeks ago.
They invited him to explain by Sunday afternoon why President Trump should change his mind.
The letter closed by notifying Acosta: ‘You will continue to maintain your hard pass while the Temporary Restraining Order issued on November 16, 2018, remains in effect.’
The West Wing also moved quicky to begin establishing what the president called formal ‘rules and regulations for conduct,’ reacting to federal judge Timothy Kelly’s ruling that the White House violated Acosta’s Fifth Amendment rights when it yanked his credentials on Nov. 7.
The White House took Acosta’s ‘hard pass’ hours after the Nov. 7 press conference but was forced to return it on Friday following a temporary restraining order from a federal judge
Trump said Sunday in a Fox News Channel interview that he’s working on new rules for reporters, and threatened to turn off the TV cameras that face journalists in the process
Kelly’s objection was that Acosta had no opportunity to defend himself, something that a constitutionally guaranteed ‘due process’ would have provided him.
The letter Shine and Sanders sent to Acosta on Friday, hours after he returned to the building with his hard pass restored, explained why they had acted nine days earlier.
He had ‘violated the basic standards’ of press conferences, they wrote, by refusing to yield the floor and the microphone when President Donald Trump told him his time asking questions was over.
CNN’s lawyers responded, complaining that the administration was trying to put into place a fig-leaf system to ‘retroactively’ justify its actions. The network is insisting that the White House must show it already had standards to judge Acosta’s conduct.
Designing a completely new framework for the White House press corps to operate in could put reporters in a box they’re not used to.
Trump threatened Sunday in a Fox News Channel interview that he might put restrictions on the number and location of video cameras in press conferences, so journalists’ faces won’t be shown in broadcasts.
He said the White House could ‘maybe turn the camera off that faces them because then they don’t have any air time, although I’ll probably be sued for that and maybe, you know, win or lose it, who knows? I mean, with with this stuff you never know what’s going to happen.’
Video cameras in presidential press conferences held in the East Room and the Rose Garden are ad hoc affairs, with camera positions that could be limited or changed on the fly.
The White House briefing room, however, includes a fixed bank of network TV cameras on one side. Their purpose is to capture reporters asking their questions so network broadcast editors can put their journalists on-screen.
Getting rid of those cameras would leave a daily gaping hole – but one that would be less-noticed since Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has held few briefings in recent months.
The networks control the TV cameras through a standing arrangement between the White House and the White House Correspondents Association. But like most media procedures at the White House, the rules are unwritten: The administration could limit the number of camera locations.
The White House sent this letter to Jim Acosta on Friday, notifying his lawyers late in the evening; it includes deadlines attached to an evaluation process tied to the revocation of his White House press pass, something his attorneys say can’t be justified retroactively
Acosta returned to a hero’s welcome at the White House on Friday after regaining his hard pass, wearing the press credentials that he had been without for nine days
Acosta was banned from the White House last week after a heated exchange with President Trump during a press conference in which an intern tried to take his microphone away
The network plans to ask Judge Kelly for a less temporary injunction against the White House once his restraining order runs its course.
Acosta returned to the White House on Friday after Kelly’s ruling, mobbed by his peers.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace asked the president why he calls on Acosta, with whom the president has had a contentious relationship with.
‘Why did you call on Acosta in the first place? I mean, it seems to me there’s a simple solution here, just don’t call on him,’ Wallace said.
‘Actually I like to do it, but in many cases I don’t. He’ll stand up, he’s unbelievably rude to Sarah Huckabee, who’s a wonderful woman, unbelievably rude and I see that and I actually ask her the same. Why do you call on these people that are so nasty?,’ Trump said.
The president also defended his attacks on the ‘fake media.’
‘I don’t mind getting bad news if I’m wrong. If I do something wrong,’ he said.
But Wallace pressed him: ‘The president [doesn’t] get to decide what’s fair and what’s not.’
‘I can tell what’s fair and not and so can my people and so can a lot of other people,’ the president responded.
Acosta was wearing his White House ‘hard pass’ (the gray ID card, pictured) when he returned to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Friday after winning a temporary restraining order
The president ratcheted up his contentious relationship with the media by revoking Acosta’s pass.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders watched as Trump spoke about the CNN ruling; she claimed a small victory earlier based on Judge Timothy Kelly’s ruling that reporters have no ‘absolute’ First Amendment right to do their work from inside the White House
After telling Trump during a conentious news conference that he wanted to ‘challenge’ him about his border policy, Acosta argued with him and remained standing with a White House microphone when the president told him his time was up. Acosta also refused to surrender the microphone to a bewildered female intern.
Trump warned he would have Acosta rejected from future press conferences ‘if he misbehaves.’
And he said he reserved the right to abruptly end Q&A events with reporters if Acosta gets on his nerves.
On Friday the president called federal judge Timothy Kelly’s ruling ‘not a big deal.’ Kelly’s decision rebuked the White House for arbitrarily ousting Acosta from the building without giving him a constitutionally guaranteed ‘due process’ to defend himself.
‘What they said, though, is that we have to create rules and regulations for conduct, etc.,’ Trump said in his Fox interview. ‘We’re doing that. Were going to write them up right now.’
‘It’s not a big deal and if he misbehaves we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference.’
Having written rules and procedures would satisfy Acosta’s Fifth Amendment rights, Kelly said Friday, but CNN’s federal lawsuit would remain to challenge Trump on First Amendment freedom-of-the-press grounds.
A government lawyer told Judge Timothy Kelly on Wednesday that Trump, pictured during a fateful Nov. 7 press conference, would be within his legal rights to ban all reporters from the White House; Kelly agreed in principle but said that once the administration let them in it had to treat all reporters equally
Trump predicted he will ultimately win once it can be shown that there are bright lines that reporters know they can’t cross.
‘We’re setting up a certain statndard which is what the court is requesting,’ he said, adding that ‘with the rules and regulations, we will end up back in court and we will win.’
Acosta returned to the White House a few hours later, mobbed by photographers and wearing his ‘hard pass,’ the same one taken from him last Wednesday by a uniformed Secret Service officer who stopped him at the Pennsylvania Avenue gate.
‘I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week,’ he said outside the federal courthouse in Washington. ‘And I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today. And let’s go back to work.’
While Kelly ordered the White House to let Acosta back in the building, he said Trump and his spokespeople aren’t obligated to call on him during press conferences or let him ask questions.
He said the White House isn’t under any obligation to host reporters at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but it also can’t play favorites once the doors are open.