White House restores CNN press pass, changes rules on press briefings
WASHINGTON (CN) – The White House announced on Monday that it will fully restore the hard pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, but said he and his journalist colleagues covering the West Wing will now have to abide by a new set of ground rules.
The administration said going forward reporters covering news conferences and press briefings will only be allowed to ask one question when called upon, and then will be expected to yield the floor.
Follow-up questions will only be allowed at the discretion of the president or administration official giving the briefing, and in cases where the reporter is using a White House microphone to ask his questions, he’ll be expected to turn that microphone over to a staff aide once his question is asked.
In a statement, CNN said in light of the decision of the White House, its lawsuit to restore Acost’s credential is “no longer necessary.”
“We look forward to continuing to cover the White House,” the news organization said.
This past weekend the dispute between the White House and CNN appeared to be heating up after the administration said it planned it again revoke Acosta’s credential after a court-ordered temporary restoration expires at the end of the month.
In a three -page filing in federal court in Washington D.C., CNN “offered to resolve” its dispute with the White House “amicably” after U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled the White House violated Acosta’s due process rights by abruptly suspending his press pass after a tense exchange with President Donald Trump during a Nov. 7 press conference.
CNN attorney Theodore Boutrous, of the Washington, D.C.-based firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, said that over the weekend CNN and the White House Correspondents’ Association reached out to the White House in a bid to mend fences.
The groups offered to help the White House establish its protocols for press conferences, a plan announced by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders shortly after its loss in federal court on Friday.
But Boutrous claimed their request was brushed off, and Sanders and White House Deputy Chief of Staff William Shine sent a letter to CNN notifying it that Acosta’s hard pass would be “preliminarily suspended” as soon as the restraining order expired.
“They demanded a response by 5 p.m. on Sunday and arbitrarily set a deadline of 3 p.m. Monday for their determination as to whether the ‘preliminary decision’ becomes final,” Boutrous wrote in the court filing.
According to a response filed by the White House Monday morning, CNN “ignored” the court’s order on Friday which instructed both parties to file a joint report proposing how they would like to proceed.
Instead, attorney James Burnham wrote, Acosta and CNN filed their request for an emergency briefing schedule on Monday – and unnecessarily.
“They did so unilaterally, without any consultation or conferral as required by … [this] court’s order. There is no basis for plaintiffs to disregard this Court’s express instructions and the local rules,” the filing states.
“So far, the White House has taken only the first step in fulfilling the due process obligations this court imposed; it has not yet made a final determination, much less sought relief from the court’s [temporary restraining order.] There was therefore no need to file a self-styled ‘emergency’ motion in the absence of the consultation required by this court’s order and the local rules,” Burnham wrote.