UPDATE: The Judge has postponed the decision from 3 p.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Friday.

A federal District Court Judge in D.C., Timothy Kelly, heard two hours of argument today on the motion for a temporary restraining order requested by CNN and Jim Acosta regarding his White House “hard pass”.

The hard pass was revoked after an incident on November 7, 2018, when Acosta refused to yield the microphone when Trump wanted to move on to other reporters. Acosta physically blocked a White House intern from retrieving the microphone.

For background, see these prior posts:

Also today, Fox News announced that it would file a brief supporting CNN:

We don’t have a transcript of the argument, but Erik Wemple of The Washington Post was in the courtroom, and tweeted the proceedings. His tweets, below, give a sense that the judge does not see this as a clear cut case for Acosta, and may accept the White House view that this is an issue of disruptive conduct, not protected speech or protected press actions.

Others in the courtroom came away with the same impression:

Even CNN is reporting that the Judge was skeptical of the CNN and Acosta positions:

Kelly expressed skepticism that this proves the Acosta ban is “content-based discrimination,” as CNN is alleging.

Kelly said there is some evidence that Acosta’s conduct — not his content — led the White House to suspend his press pass.

But Boutrous disputed that and said there “never will there be more evidence of facial discrimination and animus against an individual reporter” than in this case.

Kelly said “we’ve all seen the clip” of the White House press conference where Trump and Acosta had a combative exchange last week. Kelly said that Acosta “continued speaking after his time expired” and “wouldn’t give up his microphone” — points that the Trump administration made in its briefs earlier Wednesday.

Under questioning from the judge, Boutrous cited Trump’s words to Acosta from the press conference, and said, “‘Rudeness’ is really a code word for ‘I don’t like you being an aggressive reporter.'”

Kelly peppered CNN’s attorney with hypotheticals as he tried to determine what a lawful move by the White House, responding to Acosta’s actions, would look like.
“Could they let him keep the pass but tell him he couldn’t come to presidential press conferences?” Kelly asked.

Wemple Tweets


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