WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Washington is ordering the Trump administration to immediately return the White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly announced his decision Friday morning.
CNN had asked that Acosta’s credentials be returned while a lawsuit over their revocation goes forward.
The network’s chief White House correspondent has clashed repeatedly with Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in briefings over the last two years. But the White House pulled his credentials last week following a combative press conference in which he clashed with Trump.
The judge is a Trump appointee.
Trump has made his dislike of CNN clear since before he took office and continuing into his presidency. He has described the network as “fake news” both on Twitter and in public comments.
At last week’s press conference , which followed the midterm elections, Trump was taking questions from reporters and called on Acosta, who asked about Trump’s statements about a caravan of migrants making its way to the U.S.-Mexico border. After a terse exchange, Trump told Acosta, “That’s enough,” several times while calling on another reporter.
Acosta attempted to ask another question about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and initially declined to give up a hand-held microphone to a White House intern. Trump responded to Acosta by saying he wasn’t concerned about the investigation, calling it a “hoax,” and then criticized Acosta, calling him a “rude, terrible person.”
The White House pulled Acosta’s credentials hours later.
The White House’s explanations for why it seized Acosta’s credentials have shifted over the last week.
Sanders initially explained the decision by accusing Acosta of making improper physical contact with the intern seeking to grab the microphone.
But that rationale disappeared after witnesses backed Acosta’s account that he was just trying to keep the microphone, and Sanders distributed a doctored video that made it appear Acosta was more aggressive than he actually was. On Tuesday, Sanders accused Acosta of being unprofessional by trying to dominate the questioning at the news conference.