Last week, the White House suspended Mr Acosta’s press pass, after the reporter asked the president about his language surrounding the migrant caravan heading to the US border, resulting in a heated exchange. The White House accused Mr Acosta of placing his hands on an intern who was trying to take a microphone away from him during the press conference.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later shared an apparently distorted video clip of the press conference as evidence.
The suit alleges that both Mr Acosta’s and CNN’s constitutional rights are being impinged upon by the removal of the Secret Service “hard pass” and calls for the immediate reinstatement of Mr Acosta’s press credentials. The lawsuit claims that CNN’s first amendment right to free speech is being violated, as is the fifth amendment right to due process.
CNN says it was given no right to respond to the pass being removed, or any notice that it would be.
There are six defendants named in the lawsuit, including Mr Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine and Secret Service director Joseph Clancy.
The Secret Service officer who took the pass away last Wednesday is also listed, although he is identified as John Doe in the suit, pending him being named.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, CNN said it is seeking a preliminary injunction as soon as possible so that Mr Acosta can return to the White House right away, and a ruling from the court preventing the White House from revoking Mr Acosta’s pass in the future.
“CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration this morning in DC district court,” the statement read. “It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s first amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their fifth amendment rights to due process.
“We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”
CNN said that they believe that other news organisations could be targeted by the White House in this way in future.
In its lawsuit, CNN brought attention to Mr Trump’s threats against the press and reporters he believes will write negative coverage of his administration.
“While CNN and Acosta have been favourite targets of abuse by the administration, the president’s criticism has been directed at other news organisations too,” the lawsuit read. “The president has actively criticised and discredited any journalist or media outlet he believes might report something he considers negative. As the president explained to Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.’ And the revocation of Acosta’s credentials is only the beginning; as the president explained, there ‘could be others also’ who get their credentials revoked.”
The network received the public support of the White House Correspondents Association. The organisation released a statement on Tuesday morning expressing strong support for “CNN’s goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place”.
In response to the lawsuit, Ms Sanders issued a statement from the White House. “We have been advised that CNN has filed a complaint challenging the suspension of Jim Acosta’s hard pass. This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit.
“CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the first amendment.”
“After Mr Acosta asked the president two questions – each of which the president answered – he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern… This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.”
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