The Trump administration said on Monday that it will fully restore CNN reporter Jim Acosta‘s White House credentials, but warned that he must follow a series of rules at future press conferences.
White House officials Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Bill Shine sent Acosta a letter explaining his status. His press pass had been revoked after a contentious press conference with President Donald Trump.
On Twitter, CNN declared victory, saying, “Today the @WhiteHouse fully restored @Acosta’s press pass. As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary. We look forward to continuing to cover the White House.”
It was an abrupt about-face for the Trump administration, which said Friday that despite a judge’s injunction allowing Acosta back into the White House, it would seek to bar him again in two weeks.
The White House’s letter made clear his credentials could be threatened again. The officials said that at future press conferences, each reporter would be limited to a single question, with follow-up questions permitted at the discretion of the president or staff. It adds that “‘Yielding the floor’ includes … physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff.”
The letter said failure to abide by the rules “may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass”.
The White House revoked Acosta’s credentials after he and Trump tangled verbally during a November 7 press conference.
At the press conference, which occurred a day after the US midterm elections, Trump dodged questions on a number of issues, including those about his role in contributing to the rise of white nationalism in the US.
When asked by CNN’s Acosta about whether he had demonised immigrants with a controversial campaign advert describing Latin American migrants as invaders, Trump called the reporter “rude” and ordered an aide to physically remove the mic from the journalist.
‘Sustained pattern of attacks’
In the Friday ruling, Washington, DC, District Court Judge Timothy Kelly restored Acosta’s credentials temporarily while a CNN lawsuit against the administration proceeded.
In a letter sent later Friday, Sanders and Shine said they had made a preliminary decision to suspend Acosta’s pass.
They told Acosta his behaviour “violated the basic standards” governing presidential news conferences because he asked follow-up questions and initially refused to give up a microphone to a White House intern.
Trump has called for more “decorum” at the White House and has said staff is “writing up rules and regulations” for reporters.
The president has been under repeated criticism for his attacks on the media.
In late October, more than 200 journalists, most of them retired or semi-retired, accused Trump of a “sustained pattern” of attacking media in an open letter. It was published the a day after a spate of suspected pipe bombs sent to CNN and several Trump critics were found.
“Trump’s condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attack on a free press – which includes labeling any reportage he doesn’t like as ‘fake news’ and barring reporters and news organisations whom he wishes to punish from press briefings and events,” said the letter, which included signatories who were former press workers from CNN, ABC and the Los Angeles Times.