CNN sued the White House this week to demand the immediate return of press credentials to its reporter after the media pass was revoked last week following a high-profile press conference standoff with Donald Trump.
However, instead of everyone accepting some blame and moving on, Trump's team chose to throw a White House intern under the bus instead and allege she had been inappropriately touched by Acosta during the incident.
Earlier in the week, CNN and Acosta filed an emergency motion to have Acosta's press pass immediately reinstated as the court case continues and asked for a ruling from Kelly, a Trump-appointed US district judge. The judge said the White House denied Acosta's right to due process under the law. "It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter's colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question". Within that Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, has become target No 1. When the White House's doctored video of that event was exposed, the Trump administration dropped that argument.
A group of prominent news organizations have expressed support for CNN's lawsuit, including CNN competitor Fox News, which frequently provides favorable news coverage of Trump.
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Kelly said that CNN was likely to succeed on its claim that Acosta was not granted due process when his passed was pulled, but he cautioned that the ruling was limited and he was not yet making a determination on broader First Amendment concerns.
The White House had spelled out its reasons in a tweet from Mrs Sanders and in a statement after CNN filed its lawsuit.
The move to punish Acosta by removing his access to the White House is believed to be unprecedented, Washington Post reported. "It was the day after the midterms".
Boutrous argued that the Trump administration's views on the First Amendment are "warped", and that there's no First Amendment doctrine that says, "Because there are lots of other reporters you can ban one".