Media

CNN anchor: Trump lawsuit 'not about politics'

CNN anchor Poppy Harlow told viewers on Tuesday that the network's decision to sue the Trump administration over its revocation of White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials is "not about politics" but instead "about constitutional rights."

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday morning, CNN accuses President Trump and other White House officials of violating Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights, the latest escalation of an ongoing feud between Trump and CNN.

"I think, Ted, we should remind our viewers this is not about politics," Harlow said during an interview with Ted Boutrous, who is representing CNN in the suit. "This is about constitutional rights. Your co-counsel representing CNN in this case is Ted Olson, who represented President Bush in Bush v. Gore and won that case for President Bush."

"Exactly. And Ted Olson and I, we come from different political viewpoints, actually, even though we have been partners for 30 years," replied Boutrous. "That's the whole point."

"The First Amendment is meant to allow all viewpoints ... So this ruling will protect everyone in the press and every citizen, no matter what their political affiliation, so they get as much information as they can get so they can govern themselves," he continued. "This is not a political issue. It is a First Amendment issue that is really important to our society."  

Boutrous's argument on CNN echoes that of the language in the lawsuit, which says the White House decision to revoke Acosta's pass has a "dangerous chilling effect for any journalist." 

"While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone," CNN said in a statement. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the move "just more grandstanding from CNN" and vowed the Trump administration "will vigorously defend against this lawsuit."

The legal action comes six days after a combative exchange between Acosta and Trump in the White House East Room that dominated headlines for days.  

The exchange came to a head Acosta fired off a series of questions while openly debating the president of his portrayal of a migrant caravan as an "invasion." When Trump tried to move on to another reporter after Acosta attempted to ask a fourth question, Acosta initially refused to surrender the microphone to a White House intern.

The following day, Sanders announced that Acosta's "hard pass" was being revoked as a result. 

Trump has not appeared on CNN since taking office and often refers to the network as "fake news." 

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