By Glenn Fleishman
November 19, 2018

The White House has restored CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials, and CNN has dropped a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s access as of mid-afternoon on Nov. 19. The network said via Twitter that the lawsuit was “no longer necessary” as Acosta’s so-called “hard pass” was restored, which provides routine and expedited access for White House reporters.

Earlier in the day, it appeared that the administration was heading for a collision course with a judge who had ordered the press pass restored on Nov. 16 in a temporary restraining order. While the White House complied, it also sent a letter to Acosta stating he had violated press-room rules and his credentials would be suspended when the order expired in 14 days.

CNN filed for an emergency hearing for Nov. 26 to attempt to obtain an injunction that would remain in place until the case was heard at trial. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly indicated in the previous hearing that CNN had a good chance to prevail, hence the temporary order.

Kelly, appointed to the bench by Trump last year, issued the temporary restraining order on Nov. 16 on due process grounds, agreeing that the Trump administration failed to follow procedures that were established—but never put into play—in a 1977 appeals court decision about White House press credential revocation, and didn’t provide a coherent explanation of its unstated rules and Acosta’s violation of them.

The CNN lawsuit also raised First Amendment issues, arguing that while the White House isn’t required to be open to the press, once it allows any media, it must not discriminate on the basis of speech in the form of a reporter or outlet’s coverage.

The White House also stated new rules in its letter to Acosta governing presidential press conferences. It stated that only a single question may be asked and follow-up questions would be at the discretion of the president or White House officials.

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