The cable network filed a request in U.S. District Court seeking a hearing on a preliminary injunction to block the new White House threat to remove Acosta, a frequent foil for President Donald Trump’s anti-press rhetoric. CNN’s filing aims to protect Acosta’s access until the network’s lawsuit against the Trump administration for yanking Acosta’s credentials is decided.
The renewed White House threat, delivered in a letter to Acosta on Friday ― hours after a judge issued a temporary order that Acosta’s credentials be returned for 14 days ― was an attempt by the Trump administration “to provide retroactive due process,” CNN’s lawyers said in Monday’s court filing, obtained by BuzzFeed.
The White House is “yet again … violating the constitutional rights of CNN and Acosta,” the attorneys wrote.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine’s letter to Acosta said they made a “preliminary decision to suspend [his] hard pass due to [his] conduct” during a testy Nov. 7 Trump news conference. The letter, CNN said, was sent just hours after U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly issued the temporary order requiring the Trump administration to reinstate the reporter’s credentials.
The letter said Acosta would be allowed to keep his press pass while the order was in effect. It added that Acosta would need to reply to by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, if he wished to contest the preliminary decision to re-suspend his credentials after the order lifts.
“Should you not submit a response by that time, this preliminary decision will be final,” the letter states.
Sanders and Shine alleged that Acosta failed to abide by “basic, widely understood practices” during the presidential press conference, though they acknowledged the White House does not currently “have a written code of conduct for journalists.”
CNN sued the Trump administration following Acosta’s ouster, accusing the White House of violating the network and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.
Kelly, who was appointed by Trump last year, agreed with CNN that Acosta’s right to due process had likely been violated in the abrupt and opaque way he was stripped of his credentials.
CNN’s Brian Stelter, who shared news of the White House’s latest correspondence with Acosta in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter, suggested the Trump administration may now be attempting to establish a “paper trail” that could pass for due process.
“From the looks of the letter, the [White House] is trying to establish a paper trail that will empower the administration to boot Acosta again at the end of the month,” Stelter wrote.
CNN, reacting to the White House letter, lambasted the Trump administration for continuing “to violate the First and 5th Amendments.”
“These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations,” the outlet said in a Sunday statement.
“Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the President,” it added.
This article has been updated to include CNN’s court filing seeking an emergency hearing.