A judge has ordered the Trump administration to immediately return the White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta more than a week after they were revoked.
US District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, an appointee of President Donald Trump, announced his decision following a hearing in Washington on Friday morning [local time].
He ruled Mr Acosta’s credentials would be returned immediately and reactivated to allow him access to the White House.
The White House revoked Mr Acosta’s credentials after he and Mr Trump tangled during a highly-publicised press conference last week.
CNN had asked the judge to force the White House to immediately hand back the credentials that give Mr Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, access to the White House.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2018
CNN asked for Mr Acosta’s credentials to be restored while a lawsuit over his credentials’ revocation goes forward.
The White House listed its reasons for revoking his credentials in a tweet from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and in a statement after CNN filed its lawsuit.
Ms Sanders claimed Mr Acosta’s credentials were being revoked because he manhandled a female White House intern at the press conference as she tried to remove a microphone from his hand.
Mr Acosta, CNN and several reporters who were also at the press conference denied these allegations and accused the White House of sharing a doctored video of the counter.
Judge Kelly said those “belated efforts were hardly sufficient to satisfy due process”.
The judge also found that Mr Acosta suffered “irreparable harm”, dismissing the government’s argument that CNN could just send other reporters to cover the White House in his place.
We are not the enemy of the people. I am not your enemy. You are not my enemy. It is wrong to call your fellow Americans the enemy. We are all on the same team. We are all Americans.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 29, 2018
This is a lie. https://t.co/FastFfWych
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
Mr Trump has made his dislike of CNN clear since before he took office and continuing into his presidency.
He has described the network as “fake news” on Twitter and in public comments.
At last week’s press conference, Mr Trump had a terse exchange with Mr Acosta after the reporter asked questions about migrants heading to the US border and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Mr Acosta initially declined to give up a hand-held microphone to a White House intern after Mr Trump told him “that’s enough”, and the president called him a “rude, terrible person”.
The White House pulled Mr Acosta’s credentials hours later.
In a short press conference before returning to work, Mr Acosta said he “would like to get back to work”.
“Journalists need to know that in this country, their First Amendment rights of freedom of the press are sacred. They’re protected in our Constitution.”
“Throughout all of this, I was confident and I felt that this would be the result at the end of the day — that our rights would be protected.”
Speaking to press in the Oval Office after the ruling, Mr Trump called for decorum.
“We want total freedom of the press. That’s very important to me. It’s more important to me than anybody would believe. But you have to act with respect.”
“You’re in the White House and when I see the way some of my people get treated at press conferences, it’s terrible.”
– with AAP
Ebony Bowden contributed reporting from New York City.