CNN may be preparing a lawsuit against the White House for suspending reporter Jim Acosta’s “hard pass” after last week’s fiery confrontation at a presidential press conference.
Former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson said Sunday that CNN has sued the Trump administration — and that he has been asked to submit an affidavit — although the cable network said no decision has been reached.
“I hope I’m not mistaken, but it’s my understanding that CNN and Acosta have sued. That there will be a court hearing on Tuesday on this very matter that we’ve been discussing,” said Mr. Donaldson on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
“I’ve been told that — because I’ve been asked to give an affidavit which I’ve prepared to be submitted to the court,” Mr. Donaldson said.
Host Brian Stelter replied, “Not that I know of.” The cable network released a statement shortly thereafter saying the lawsuit talk was premature.
“No decisions have been made. We have reached out to the White House and gotten no response,” said the CNN statement.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suspended the “hard pass,” which allows reporters faster entry and exit from the White House, after Mr. Acosta refused to yield the floor to questions from other reporters and return the microphone to an intern at Wednesday’s press conference.
Floyd Abrams, a veteran First Amendment lawyer and constitutional law expert, told Mr. Stelter that CNN should sue the White House over the suspension.
“I think it’s a really strong lawsuit,” Mr. Abrams said. “I can understand CNN being reluctant to sue because the president keeps saying, ‘CNN is the enemy of me,’ and CNN might have reluctance to have a lawsuit titled ‘CNN vs. Donald Trump.’ That said, yes, I think they should sue.”
Mrs. Sanders accused Mr. Acosta of “inappropriate behavior,” including “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” which CNN denied. The video showed the two coming into contact as she attempted to retrieve the mic and he resisted.
The White House later released what White House counsel Kellyanne Conway called a “sped-up” video of the counter, which critics have described as “doctored.”
Mrs. Conway denied the allegation. “That’s not altered. That’s sped up. They do it all the time in sports to see if there’s actually a first down or a touchdown,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I have to disagree with the overwrought description of this video being doctored as if we put someone else’s arm in there.”
She added: “You have to show respect to the White House, to the presidency and certainly to the president. And I think what Acosta did was very unfair to the rest of the press corps.”