UPDATE: As it turns out, the Trump White House’s latest threat to revoke Acosta’s press access turned out to be hollow. On Monday afternoon, after this article was published, the White House fully reinstated the CNN reporter’s press access, effectively ending the protracted legal battle over Acosta’s credentials.
Days after a federal judge granted CNN’s request to temporarily restore White House reporter Jim Acosta’s press badge, Trump administration officials reportedly sent a letter to the reporter on Monday suggesting his press credentials would be suspended again in two weeks.
This was a fact that top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway only learned on national television during an interview with Fox News.
While praising the White House press corps’ decision to establish “new rules” for reporters to ensure “respect for the president”—as part of U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly request for established rules of conduct for reporters going forward—Fox host Bill Hemmer asked Conway about whether those new guidelines will apply to Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent and recent legal adversary of the president’s.
“Is that reporter allowed back in the White House?” Hemmer asked. “I was given a note an hour ago the White House made a preliminary decision to suspend the hard pass for Jim Acosta again. Are you fighting this?”
Pausing with both of her eyebrows raised, Conway admitted she hadn’t heard about that decision, one that would revoke Acosta’s hard pass immediately after the court-ordered temporary restraining order expired.
“I’m not aware of anything happening in the last hour,” she said, in a clip first spotted by Raw Story. “I would have to talk to the press shop about that. Obviously it was reinstated. He came here.”
The Fox News host pushed further, questioning the White House counsel on whether Acosta would be allowed back in the White House on Monday—his first full day back since his pass was reinstated.
“I don’t know that answer,” Conway replied. “I don’t know that answer,” she then pivoted, “but I want to broaden the conversation out to the White House press corps and freedom of the press. The president is right nobody likes the First Amendment more than he does. He sends us out here to talk about that and I’m on TV almost every day trying to talk about policy.”
The debate arose after the CNN reporter had a tense exchange with the president at a press conference earlier this month, refusing to give up his microphone to a White House intern while Trump berated Acosta and refused to answer questions about his rhetoric on the migrant caravan.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said while pointing at Acosta, during a press conference intended to praise Republican midterm wins. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person.”
The White House revoked Acosta’s White House access hours after the altercation, justifying their decision by falsely accusing Acosta of “placing his hands” on the intern—a move that CNN said violated Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.
“The White House is continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution,” CNN said in a statement on Monday, adding that they will seek an emergency hearing with the U.S. District Court over the new allegations. “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.”
Defending the move to once again remove Acosta’s pass, Conway on Monday once again deflected blame away from the White House and onto the president’s favorite enemy: The media.
“But look at just last week. All the coverage, Bill, was about who works here, not the work that is done by the people who work here,” Conway said. “Are we not interested in policy and in what goes on here and the many different things that happen through the cabinet rather than who is in the Cabinet or who’s up and who’s down? I guess eventually everybody will be, right? Everybody will leave at some point, including the president six years from now.”
She continued: “Isn’t there the least bit of shame that the headlines and the Twitter explodes about palace intrigue? It’s really silly.”