A federal judge ordered the White House to reinstate CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s credentials Friday after President Donald Trump banned him last week following a tense exchange in a press briefing.
U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said that the Trump administration likely violated CNN and Acosta’s Fifth Amendment rights and also likely caused “irreparable harm” in its conduct. The judge also said that Acosta’s First Amendment rights outweighed the Trump administration’s right to orderly press conferences.
The judge did not rule on the underlying case but granted CNN an injunction to restore Acosta's press pass until the full case is heard in court.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us,” Acosta said, speaking outside the courthouse. “Let’s get back to work.”
CNN and Acosta released a joint statement that applauded the ruling.
It’s a huge victory for CNN, which had the backing of numerous other top news outlets in its legal battle with the Trump administration. Even Fox News, the president’s favorite news source, issued a statement to show support for CNN.
The day after the midterms, Trump and Acosta got into a confrontation after Acosta asked the president why he characterized a group of migrants traveling to the U.S. border from Central America as an “invasion.” He also asked the president a question about the Russia investigation.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them,” Trump also told Acosta. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders later tweeted a doctored video that was sped up to create the illusion that Acosta was using force against a female press room aide. On the question of assault, Judge Kelly said the allegation is "likely untrue."
While the ruling restores Acosta's access to the White House, Judge Kelly made it clear it is not a ruling on the facts of the case, which have yet to be heard. “I want to emphasize the very limited nature of this ruling,” Judge Kelly said. “I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated here.”
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump gets into an exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a news conference a day after the midterm elections on November 7, 2018 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Al Drago - Pool/Getty Images)