A federal judge in DC’s District Court has delivered a stunning blow in the ongoing battle between the Trump administration and the US media, ordering the White House to return the “hard pass” or security badge used by CNN’s Jim Acosta to the journalist after they revoked it following a contentious showdown between the veteran reporter and the President at a briefing.
But it may have struck an even stronger chord with Republicans who have been busy filling federal judicial vacancies, as the judge in this case, Timothy J. Kelly, is himself a Trump appointee.
The Court granted “emergency relief” in the form of a temporary restraining order preventing the White House from revoking the pass, as CNN’s lawyers argued that Acosta’s First Amendment rights were being violated on an ongoing basis — a new violation each day he was denied the pass.
CNN is also seeking permanent relief, which would come in the form of a ruling by the judge that Trump’s action against Acosta was unconstitutional. Such a ruling would likely protect any other journalists this White House sought to retaliate against in a similar or even identical way.
The cable news network had attempted to reach a resolution with the White House for several days before filing suit against the administration. That lawsuit named Trump, Sarah Sanders, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Communications Director Bill Shine, and the Secret Service as defendants, all of whom had a hand in either the decision to revoke the pass, the declared rationale for the revocation, or the enforcement of Trump’s order to take the hard pass away.
The decision comes at a time of turmoil for the President, who is widely suspected of being out of sorts over the Mueller investigation, which is said to be tantalizingly close to additional indictments much closer to the President’s inner circle than any that have already been filed. Although details are scarce on who is expected to be named in the next round of indictments, keen observers in the case noted that filings made in recent days by federal prosecutors reveal that Julian Assange, the mastermind behind “transparency” agency WikiLeaks, is under sealed indictment and that US prosecutors are optimistic about getting him extradited the face trial here in the United States.
Assange’s association with an array of Trump campaign officials prior to, during, and after the release of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee could provide the smoking gun that Mueller has sought to tie Trump himself to conspiracy with Russia — whose government and spy agencies were behind the hacking.
But for now, all Trump needs to worry about is that the next person reporting on all of this could be the guy he tried to kick out of the White House.
Featured image via screen capture