White House threatens all journalists with vow to 'throw Acosta out'

"The White House is continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution."

Image via screengrab

CNN requested an emergency hearing Monday after the White House warned reporter Jim Acosta that it would again suspend his press pass after a two-week restraining order expires.

Three days after a federal judge ordered the administration to restore Acosta's press pass allowing him to attend briefings and report on the White House, officials sent the reporter a letter warning that his rights would soon be suspended again.

"The White House is continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution," CNN said in a statement after Acosta received the letter. "These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the president."

Acosta has been on the receiving end of much of the Trump administration's crusade against the free press, but other critics joined the network in saying the White House's latest attack on him represents a threat to the press at large.

As a nationwide community of novelists, journalists, editors, and writers, PEN America holds that President Trump’s efforts to use the power of the state against the media are not only unbecoming a US President—they’re unconstitutional. https://t.co/q5nJXduJn2

— PEN America (@PENamerican) November 17, 2018

Revoking access to the White House because the President objects to questions posed by a credentialed journalist is an act of retaliation prohibited by the 1st Amendment and represents a dangerous development in this Administration’s attack on free and independent press. https://t.co/1D7pGtoC3J

— George Lehner (@GALehner) November 8, 2018

Acosta's press pass was revoked on November 7 after the White House falsely accused him of aggressively putting his hands on an intern who was attempting to take a microphone away from him to stop him from questioning President Donald Trump.

After critics derided the administration for using a doctored video to make its point, the White House changed its story, saying last week that Acosta's pass was revoked only because he had "refused to surrender" the microphone. 

After CNN filed a lawsuit, federal Judge Timothy J. Kelly granted the network a temporary restraining order forcing the White House to restore Acosta's press pass—emphasizing the "limited nature" of the ruling but also saying CNN would likely win its larger case against the administration. 

On Sunday, the president told Fox News that the White House still planned to "throw [Acosta] out" if he was seen as "misbehaving" during a press conference. Trump also said the White House would be writing new "rules and regulations for conduct" that journalists would be required to follow, echoing Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' statement on Friday that "There must be decorum at the White House"—a call that was mocked by critics who pointed out the marked lack of respect the president has shown his opponents.

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Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.