CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House for stripping the hard pass from CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta after he rudely refused to hand over his mic and physically blocked an intern from taking it. But CNN’s legal team appears to have rushed its big lawsuit, which contains some glaring errors and curious references.
The feud over Acosta’s indefinitely revoked hard pass revolves around his behavior at a November 7 press conference last week in which he, as White House Press Sec. Sarah Sanders put it, “plac[ed] his hands” on a female White House intern whom he had repeatedly refused to allow to take the microphone despite having already asked multiple questions and the president telling him in no uncertain terms that his time was up.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sec. Sanders wrote in a series of tweets announcing the removal of Acosta’s pass. “We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question. President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history.”
Here’s the moment where Acosta physically blocked the intern:
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2018
But in the lawsuit, CNN attempts to place the blame on the intern for trying to take the mic after he refused to hand it over and downplays Acosta physically blocking her from doing so:
A White House staffer then approached Acosta and attempted to grab the microphone. The staffer reached all the way across Acosta’s body, successfully latched onto the microphone, and physically attempted to remove it from Acosta’s hand. Acosta held onto the microphone, stated “Pardon me, ma’am,” and continued to ask his questions.
The lawsuit’s account fails to acknowledge that Acosta clearly brought his left arm down on the girl’s arm to block her from retrieving the microphone. Instead, the intern is portrayed as the one who got “physical” and Acosta as simply having “held onto the microphone,” which is a verifiably false description of his actions.
The lawsuit also describes the video that Sanders tweeted of the Acosta-intern confrontation as “edited,” which analysts have pushed back against. The video was converted to a GIF, which impacts the frame-rate speeds but does not constitute “doctoring” the video, as CNN has alleged.
As the Daily Caller’s Amber Athey notes, along with inaccurately claiming a Daily Caller reporter was physically present at the press conference, the lawsuit also doesn’t even get Acosta’s line of questioning right, mischaracterizing his questions and downplaying how much his actions prompted the president’s response.
The lawsuit says that the confrontation was prompted by Acosta asking “a question about one of President Trump’s statements during the midterm campaign — namely, whether a caravan making its way to the United States from Central America constitutes ‘an invasion’ of the country.” It goes on to claim that Trump refused to answer the question, which also isn’t accurate, and then suggests that Trump unloaded on Acosta largely unprompted. But as the following transcript shows, Acosta’s “question” was more of a self-described “challenge,” and Trump did answer, just not in the way Acosta wanted him to:
ACOSTA: I’d like to challenge you on one of the statements you made at the tail end of the campaign in the midterms.
TRUMP: Here we go.
ACOSTA: … That this caravan was an invasion.
TRUMP: I consider it to be an invasion.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion. It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border of the U.S. … Why did you characterize it as such?
TRUMP: Because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.
Acosta “challenges” Trump, who then does in fact answer him: He considers it an “invasion”; the two men have “a difference of opinion.”
And here is transcript showing Acosta repeatedly refusing to accept that he’s had “enough” time and then trying to work in a question about Russia, both of which the lawsuit fails to note and which ultimately prompted Trump’s strong rebuke:
ACOSTA: They’re hundreds of miles away though. They’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away. That’s not an invasion.
TRUMP: Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.
ACOSTA: If I may ask one other question.
TRUMP: Okay, that’s enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, if I may ask one —
TRUMP: You can go ahead.
ACOSTA: — other question. Are you worried —
TRUMP: That’s enough. That’s enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President —
TRUMP: That’s enough.
ACOSTA: — ask one of the other folks —
TRUMP: That’s enough.
ACOSTA: Pardon me, ma’am. I’m — Mr. President.
TRUMP: Excuse me, that’s enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, I have one other question, if I may ask, on the Russia investigation. Are you concerned that you may have —
TRUMP: I’m not concerned about anything with the Russian investigation because it’s a hoax.
ACOSTA: With the indictments coming —
TRUMP: That’s enough. Put down the mic.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation? Mr. President —
TRUMP: I tell you what. CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. Go ahead.
ACOSTA: I think that’s unfair.
TRUMP: You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible and the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.
Here’s video of that contains the exchange:
The lawsuit also curiously contains references to tweets, including one ridiculous meme shared by Trump “depicting him tackling and punching a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his face” (the creator of which CNN infamously tracked down), as evidence of his hostility toward the network.
CNN's lawsuit against White House also includes this Presidential tweet video as an exhibit. Exhibit 1 pic.twitter.com/8kCkrBWq4f
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) November 13, 2018
Here’s a screenshot of the passage laying out the network’s tweet grievances:
More screenshots of relevant sections of the lawsuit below: