White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a blistering statement on Tuesday firing back at CNN and reporter Jim Acosta for the network’s “grandstanding” lawsuit against the Trump administration. Last week, the White House rescinded Acosta’s hard press pass indefinitely after he physically stopped an intern from taking the microphone from him so another reporter could ask a question.
“We have been advised that CNN has filed a complaint challenging the suspension of Jim Acosta’s hard pass. This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against the lawsuit,” said Sanders in the statement.
“Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment,” Sanders continued, noting that CNN “has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders.”
The press secretary explained that Acosta “inappropriately” refused to yield after he asked two questions that were answered by the president.
“After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions — each of which the President answered — he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters,” the statement reads.
Contrary to CNN’s claims, Sanders argued that it was Mr. Acosta’s actions that hurt the First Amendment, not the White House’s attempt to essentially restore the standards of an “orderly and fair press conference.”
“The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional. The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior, it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business,” she said.
CNN officially filed suit on Tuesday, claiming the revocation of Acosta’s hard pass is unconstitutional.
“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” said the network in a press release. “We have asked the court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass to be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”
As noted by The Daily Wire on Tuesday, the suit names the Trump administration, Sanders, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and the Secret Service agent who physically revoked Acosta’s credentials as defendants.
The White House Correspondents Association has urged the reinstatement of Acosta’s hard press pass: “We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent. The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.”