Monday 16 September 2019

White House insists it has right to ban journalists in Acosta dispute

Jim Acosta: The CNN reporter received support from Fox News. Photo: Carlos Barria
Jim Acosta: The CNN reporter received support from Fox News. Photo: Carlos Barria

Nick Allen

Donald Trump's administration has argued in legal documents that it has a constitutional right to ban CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House.

Lawyers for the US Justice Department contended the administration has "broad discretion" to regulate press access to the complex.

It was a response to CNN's legal request for a temporary restraining order restoring Mr Acosta's access.

A judge was due to hold a hearing yesterday on CNN's complaint.

Responding in court documents, the justice department said: "The President and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences."

Mr Acosta was banished following a particularly contentious press conference with the president last week.

He has repeatedly clashed with Mr Trump and press secretary Sarah Sanders in briefings.

The administration lawyers argued it was "lawful" to punish Mr Acosta.

His press credentials were taken away by the Secret Service and CNN alleged that his constitutional rights had been violated.

Fox News yesterday backed CNN, its bitter cable news rival, in the ongoing dispute.

Jay Wallace, president of Fox News, said: "Fox News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter's press credential.

"We intend to file an amicus brief with the US District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponised.

"While we don't condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the president and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people."

The White House has dismissed the complaint as "grandstanding" and vowed to "vigorously defend" its actions.

Mr Trump, Ms Sanders and White House chief of staff John Kelly are named among the defendants.

CNN is also seeking "a declaration that the revocation of Acosta's press credentials was unconstitutional".

Irish Independent

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