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Judge Delays Ruling On CNN Suit To Reinstate White House Reporter

Posted Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 6:20 pm

A US federal judge delayed until Friday a ruling on a lawsuit to force the White House to reinstate a CNN reporter banned after a heated exchange with President Donald Trump during a news conference last week.

Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, said he would rule by 10 am (1500 GMT) Friday, postponing his initial plan to rule on Thursday.

CNN’s suit, which the White House dismissed as “grandstanding,” drew support from major US news organizations, including Fox News, the Rupert Murdoch-owned television network known for its friendly coverage of Trump and other conservatives.

CNN lawyers argued in court Wednesday that the White House violated correspondent Jim Acosta’s First Amendment right to free speech in revoking his credentials, and asked the court to order that they be reinstated.

The US Justice Department’s lawyer, James Burnham, countered that Acosta had “disrupted” last week’s news conference. Burnham insisted “there is no First Amendment right to access the White House.”

Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, angered Trump when he persisted in questioning the president at a November 7 news conference, ignoring demands he yield the microphone.

From the podium, Trump called Acosta — a frequent target of his ire — a “rude, terrible person.”

Hours later the White House revoked Acosta’s security pass, initially accusing him of “placing his hands” on a female press aide who tried to take the microphone away.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a video to support the claim, but analysts said the footage was sped up, creating the appearance that Acosta had manhandled the aide.

In a “friend of court” brief, the White House Correspondents Association urged the court to find in favor of CNN, warning that to do otherwise would set a dangerous legal precedent.

“The White House is the People’s House, and the First Amendment does not permit the President to pick and choose which journalists do — and do not — cover him there.”

Others backing the CNN arguments in court included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, First Look Media Works, Gannett, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, NBC News, The New York Times, Politico, Press Freedom Defense Fund, EW Scripps Company, USA Today and The Washington Post.

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