US network CNN has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his aides after its reporter had his press pass revoked by the administration.
Jim Acosta, the broadcaster’s chief White House correspondent, found his entry to the White House barred after a heated exchange with Mr Trump during a press conference last week.
The White House said it had revoked Mr Acosta’s pass because he placed his hands on a White House intern, a claim he denied.
In a statement, CNN said it had filed a "lawsuit against the Trump administration this morning in DC District Court" demanding the return of their journalist’s White House credentials.
The court filing accused Mr Trump of violating CNN and Mr Acosta’s constitutional rights which protect freedom of the press and the right to due process.
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The lawsuit names six defendants: Mr Trump, his chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, Secret Service director Joseph Clancy, and the Secret Service officer who took Mr Acosta’s hard pass away last Wednesday. The unnamed officer is identified as John Doe in the suit.
This morning, CNN filed a lawsuit against @realDonaldTrump and top aides. The White House has violated CNN and @Acosta's First Amendment rights of freedom of the press and Fifth Amendment rights to due process. Complaint: https://t.co/43oX6L8xA7 pic.twitter.com/RvJ0Cgh6oi
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 13, 2018
The White House Correspondents’ Association, whose members work for a range of news organisations, said it "strongly supports" the lawsuit.
The association’s president, Olivier Knox, said: "Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday.
"We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent. The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him."
"The wrongful revocation of these rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process."
It added: "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials".
The row between Mr Trump and Mr Acosta on live national television and the removal of the journalist’s press credentials triggered accusations that Mr Trump was stifling the press.
Mr Trump demanded that the reporter yield the microphone and called him a "rude, terrible person" when he did not immediately comply.
Mr Acosta persisted with questions and a White House intern tried to take the microphone from the CNN journalist – an incident the Trump administration characterised as misconduct against the woman.
Hours later the White House press secretary announced Mr Acosta’s hard pass had been suspended, a rare if not unprecedented move that she justified by claiming the reporter was inappropriately "placing his hands" on the intern.
Mrs Sanders then tweeted a video that she said backed up the decision – but video verification experts said the footage was manipulated to make it appear that Mr Acosta struck the intern.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mrs Sanders called the lawsuit "more grandstanding from CNN" and said the administration would "vigorously defend" itself.
She said: “CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment.
"After Mr Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.
"The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional. The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolise the floor.
"If there is no check on this type of behaviour it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.”