It looks like the battle between CNN and the White House is only just beginning.
White House officials have reportedly told CNN’s Jim Acosta that they will suspend his press pass once again at the end of the month—when the temporary restraining order that forced them to restore his credentials runs out.
On Sunday night, CNN’s Brian Stelter reported in his Reliable Sources newsletter that White House officials sent Acosta a letter stating that his pass will be snatched out of his hands again when the two-week order issued by a judge last Friday runs out.
Acosta had his credentials torn up after a row with the president at a press conference the day after the Midterm elections when Trump appeared to be in a foul mood. The White House accused the reporter of “[placing] his hands” on an intern who tried to take the microphone away from him while he was pressing Trump over inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants.
The president berated Acosta and called him a “rude, terrible person.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was roundly criticized after the incident when she posted a video of it which appeared to be “doctored to make Acosta look more aggressive than he was,” according to video producer Abba Shapiro.
CNN won its legal battle against the Trump administration Friday when U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, granted the network’s request for a temporary restraining order restoring Acosta’s White House press badge for 14 days.
Judge Kelly criticized the administration for its defenses of its decision, including the dubious claim that Acosta laid his hands on the female White House intern who tried to take the microphone from him—a claim of “questionable accuracy,” according to Kelly.
Shortly after the ruling, Trump was interviewed on Fox News and was asked about the White House defeat. “It’s fine, it’s not a big deal,” Trump said at first. However, the president then seemed to threaten Acosta, telling Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace: “If he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out. Or we’ll stop the news conference.”
The president went on: “Nobody believes in the First Amendment more than I do… And if I think somebody’s acting out of sorts I will leave. I will say, ‘Thank you very much everybody, thank you very much for coming’ and I will leave. And those reporters will not be too friendly to whoever it is that’s acting up.”
Now the White House appears to have followed up on Trump’s threats.
CNN’s Stelter reported Sunday: “If you thought the Trump administration would seek to settle CNN and Jim Acosta's lawsuit out of court... think again.
“After CNN won a temporary restraining order on Friday, forcing the White House to restore his press pass for 14 days, White House officials sent Acosta a letter stating that his pass is set to be suspended again once the restraining order expires.”
Stelter added: “From the looks of the letter, the W.H. is trying to establish a paper trail that will empower the administration to boot Acosta again at the end of the month.”
CNN responded to the reports in a statement saying the White House was “continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution.” The statement went on: “These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the President.”
The network later said it would ask the U.S. District Court for an emergency hearing on seeking a preliminary injunction, which it said could be in effect for “much longer” and protect Acosta's White House access.