White House on Monday granted access to expelled CNN reporter Jim Acosta concurrently lifting the imposition on the reporter. But good things come with a price, White House has issued a number of guidelines to be abide by him in exchange of the reporter’s credentials.
“Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta’s press pass,” CNN said in a statement. “As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary. We look forward to continuing to cover the White House.”
The White House’s move to restore Acosta’s pass, announced in a letter to the news network, appeared to be a capitulation to CNN in its brief legal fight against the administration. White House officials had suspended Acosta’s White House press pass following a contentious news conference on Nov. 7, prompting CNN to sue last week to force the administration to return it.
Just three days ago, press secretary Sarah Sanders and deputy chief of staff Bill Shine told Acosta and CNN that they would suspend his press pass again once a temporary restraining order against such an action expired. The 14-day order was issued by a judge on Friday and was due to expire at the end of the month.
CNN went to court seeking to block that action, and on Monday the White House seemed to back down.
Sanders and Shine said they had made a “final determination” that Acosta’s pass would be restored permanently as long as he followed new rules guiding reporters’ conduct at White House news conferences.
In a letter to Acosta, they wrote, “Should you refuse to follow these rules in the future, we will take action” to remove the pass.
Among the rules: Reporters must ask only one question of the president at news conferences, but they can follow up with another if the president consents. A reporter must then “yield the floor,” including giving up a microphone. Failure to abide by these rules, the White House letter said, will result in revocation of a journalist’s White House pass.
The letter prompted CNN to end its litigation against the White House.
The new rules effectively codify what has already been traditional practice at White House press events. Acosta, however, was banned from the White House after he asked multiple questions of President Trump at the Nov. 7 news conference and briefly tangled with a White House press aide who sought to take a microphone from his hand.
The revocation precipitated a brief but colorful legal crossfire between CNN and the White House over the past 12 days.
CNN first fought back against the White House’s “indefinite” suspension of Acosta, winning a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Friday that gave Acosta a reprieve for two weeks.
Then it objected to the White House’s fallback position – that it would take the pass away once the TRO expired. CNN’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous, told the court that such an action amounted to “retroactive due process.”
CNN had been seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent the White House from suspending Acosta’s pass until its lawsuit was resolved.