No way, no how and not now is the unsurprising summation of Donald Trump and the White House’s response to CNN’s lawsuit filed yesterday to have Jim Acosta’s press credentials restored.
“Plaintiffs fail to reckon with the extraordinarily intrusive nature of the judicial relief they seek a decree ordering the President to grant access to facilities in his official residence and personal offices to a specific journalist he has decided to exclude,” said a filing by Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Communications boss and ex-Fox News Channel boss Bill Shine, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Secret Service, and the other defendants (read it here).
“At this preliminary stage, that hardship is far more significant than any hardship on Plaintiffs,” the DOJ prepared paperwork tells District Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee. “For that reason, too, emergency relief is unwarranted.
“The public interest does not require that Mr. Acosta is given immediate access to the White House complex,” Team Trump states, declaring that with 50 other CNN staffers retaining entry to the Pennsylvania Avenue venue, Acosta can do his job from outside the gates.
A clearly disagreeing CNN and the administration are set to clash in person this afternoon in a hearing before Judge Kelly in Washington D.C. for a temporary restraining order to get Acosta back in the White House ASAP.
A longtime thorn in Trump’s paw, Acosta was refused entry to the Executive Mansion on November 7 by a White House guard who asked the reporter to hand over his credentials. That came just hours after a life on national TV dust-up between the President and Acosta at what was supposed to be a victory lap East Room press conference by Trump and descended into a verbal brawl. At one point, after bellowing “put down the mic,” POTUS called the CNN correspondent a “rude, terrible person” as Acosta refused to back down on questions he had for Trump.
Then the hammer dropped.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sanders said in an obviously timed statement on the night of November 7. “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,” the remarks that were released mere minutes after Acosta had his pass taken away went on to say. “This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”
Acosta responded online quickly, calling Sanders assertion “a lie.”
Footage of the incident clearly shows Acosta was in fact politely trying to keep the microphone in his own hands to continue pursuing his query with Trump. A clearly doctored video put out by the White House on November 8 received instant disdain and derision. The administration has since walked back the accusation of Acosta putting hands on the intern and moved more into a pose of claiming the CNN reporter was “disrespectful” and perhaps even a danger to Trump, which is why the Secret Service was involved. However, just before Acosta was refused entry to events with Trump while in Paris this past weekend, the President himself has also floated tossing out more reporters if they get in his face.
A POV intimated in today’s response from the White House as well.
“With respect to their First Amendment claim, the President and his staff have absolute discretion over which journalists they grant interviews to, as well as over which journalists they acknowledge at press events,” the 23-page memorandum from Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt, Deputy Assistant AG James Burnham and Assistant Branch Director Eric Womack asserts. “That broad discretion necessarily includes discretion over which journalists receive on-demand access to the White House grounds and special access during White House travel for the purpose of asking questions of the President or his staff.”
“No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House and the President need not survive First Amendment scrutiny whenever he exercises his discretion to deny an individual journalist one of the many hundreds of passes granting on-demand access to the White House complex,” the Department of Justice crew plus lawyers Michale Baer and Joseph Borson also state.
Let’s see if Judge Kelly agrees with the feds or the Jeff Zucker led cabler newsers, which has been backed by a variety of groups, including arch-rival and Trump fav Fox News.
Theodore Boutrous, former Solicitor General Theodore Olson and Ann Champion of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP are representing CNN in the matter Boutrous’ name might sound familiar to some as the attorney is also repping Ashley Judd in her defamation battle with much accused and disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, which is set to go to trial in 2020.