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‘Just more grandstanding’: Sarah Sanders pulls no punches in response to CNN as lawsuit details emerge

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders fired back at CNN for “more grandstanding” as the network filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for suspending Jim Acosta’s press credentials.

CNN filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against President Donald Trump and several White House aides after the Chief White House correspondent’s “hard pass” was temporarily suspended, The Daily Caller reported.

(Image: screengrab)

The White House decision came after a contentious exchange between Acosta and the president at a press conference last week as the reporter refused to relinquish the microphone after Trump had answered his questions and even wrangled with a White House intern momentarily as she tried to get the mic away from him.

Sanders dismissed the lawsuit as “just more grandstanding from CNN,” and vowed to “vigorously defend” against it.

“This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” Sanders said Tuesday.

“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,” she added. “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, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.”

“The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional,” Sanders said. “The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.”

The statement notably did not mention the alleged physical contact between Acosta and the White House intern, which was previously suggested but denied by Acosta.

CNN’s lawsuit claimed the White House violated Acosta’s constitutional rights protecting press freedom and due process as the complaint to DC District Court was made public.

Politico’s Jason Schwartz highlighted a portion of the filings pointing to Acosta’s encounter with the intern.

The lawsuit also included comments by White House counselor Kellyanne Conway who told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that the video of the incident was not “altered” but was “sped up.”

The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple pointed out the part of the lawsuit that included Acosta’s take on what happened.

Naturally, the CNN reporter did not see his rude behavior and disrespect for the president and his media colleagues as the root of the problem, but blamed Trump for his “dissatisfaction” with Acosta’s line of questioning.

Acosta also contends that Trump’s criticism of the press – and his network in particular – have affected him on a personal level.

For Trump’s visit to France, Acosta was not issued even a daily press pass but he was credentialed by France.

There was also some speculation about whether the press pass was only suspended temporarily or for good.

The White House Correspondents’ Association supported CNN’s lawsuit.

“The president of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him,” the Association’s president, Oliver Knox, said.

New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg, who wrote about the press contemplating a boycott of White House press briefings, admitted that Acosta “is a somewhat polarizing figure, viewed by some of his press corps colleagues as a showboat.”

CNN has asked the court for an injunction to immediately reinstate Acosta, and has requested a hearing on the issue of the administration banning reporters.

 

Frieda Powers

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