US

Sarah Huckabee Sanders fires back at CNN’s ‘grandstanding’ lawsuit in blistering statement

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issues a response to CNN's lawsuit against the White House. (Image source: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fired back Tuesday at CNN's move to sue President Donald Trump and five other people over the administration's decision to suspend CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House access.

What are the details?

Sanders wrote in a statement, "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 the 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," the statement continued."

Sanders' statement then went on to detail the altercation that led to Acosta's suspension.

"This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters," the statement added of Acosta's White House behaviors.

The statement concluded, "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."

What's the background?

Trump and Acosta squared off during a Nov. 7 White House news conference.

Trump called on Acosta and answered several questions, and at one point, it was clear that the president was moving on to another reporter.

Acosta insisted on speaking over the president, and when a White House intern attempted to retrieve the microphone from Acosta, the CNN reporter refused to let go.

“Just sit down, please,” Trump said. “Well, when you report fake news — no. When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

Acosta eventually surrendered the microphone.

After the incident, CNN public relations released a statement accusing Trump and his “ongoing attacks on the press” of perpetuating “disturbingly un-American” behaviors. CNN later requested that the White House reinstate Acosta's hard pass and notified the White House that a suit was imminent.

Six people are named as defendants in the suit, including Trump, Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, and an unnamed Secret Service staffer.

In a statement regarding the impending suit, CNN said:

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. While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.
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