The White House will no longer try to revoke CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press accreditation, but it will enforce new rules for reporters in the wake of the journalist’s altercation with President Donald Trump.
“This afternoon we have notified Jim Acosta and CNN that his hard pass has been restored,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Monday, adding that the rules were being imposed “with a degree of regret.”
The rules include limiting each reporter to one question at a press conference, unless a follow-up is allowed by the White House.
The announcement codifies existing norms but explicitly states for the first time that violations can lead to the suspension of a pass.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) welcomed the decision on Acosta, but pushed back on the new rules.
“For as long as there have been White House press conferences, White House reporters have asked follow-up questions. We fully expect this tradition will continue,” said WHCA head Olivier Knox.
The White House first revoked Acosta’s press pass after he and Trump had a heated exchange at a press conference earlier this month.
The spat followed months of tensions between the president and the reporter, and CNN more generally. Trump has referred to CNN broadcasts as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.”
A US judge last week ordered the White House to give Acosta back his press pass as part of a temporary order that expires later this month.
Within hours of the ruling, the White House complied but told CNN it planned to again target Acosta’s pass in the near future. On Monday, the network went back to court, demanding an emergency hearing.
Before the judge could act, the White House stepped away from its fight with the CNN reporter, in a case that has drawn strong concerns about press freedom.
“Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta’s press pass,” the network wrote on Twitter. “As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary. We look forward to continuing to cover the White House.”
CNN argues that media outlets should be able choose their representatives to cover the White House regardless of their criticism towards the president.
The administration said Acosta violated decorum by refusing to hand back the microphone to a White House staffer and allegedly making physical contact with her.
Trump’s media team has also noted that CNN has some 50 pass holders and the administration respected the freedom of the press.
CNN says the White House is violating Acosta’s constitutional protections for a free press and due process. The network has been backed by a range of media outlets, including major broadcasters and newspaper from the left and the right.
The drawing up of specific rules seems designed to work around the federal judge who had said the White House appeared to be acting without due process in Acosta’s case, as there was no clear criteria for revocation
“It would be a great loss for all if, instead of relying on the professionalism of White House journalists, we were compelled to devise a lengthy and detailed code of conduct for White House events,” Sanders said, indicating a more detailed list could come.