Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is seen speaking on a television screen in the filing center during the Republican presidential primary candidate debate sponsored by CNN (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

CNN's Acosta Returns to White House After Court Restores Pass

(Bloomberg) -- CNN reporter Jim Acosta returned to the White House Friday, hours after a court ordered President Donald Trump to temporarily restore a press pass his administration had revoked.

Trump said shortly afterward he will impose new rules governing reporters’ conduct at news conferences as the president’s feud with the media escalates.

“People have to behave,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “You have to act with respect. You’re in the White House.”

In an interview with Fox News that is scheduled to air Sunday, Trump dismissed the court decision as “not a big deal” and raised the possibility he would walk out of a news conference if he thinks a reporter is rude. “If I think someone’s acting out of sorts, I will leave.”

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, ordered the White House to temporarily restore Acosta’s press pass while he considers a legal challenge to the White House’s decision to take it away. The CNN reporter’s press credentials were revoked late on Nov. 7 following a contentious presidential press conference, a day after Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.

The ruling and Acosta’s return to broadcasting from the White House grounds is a rebuke to Trump as the president tries to recover from the midterm losses. The judicial decision furthers a portrait of a president overstepping his authority to settle personal scores and carries extra sting because it was issued by a judge the president appointed.

Trump has frequently sparred with CNN, which he’s called a purveyor of fake news, and in particular with Acosta, the network’s chief White House correspondent. Other networks, including Fox News, rallied around their competitor this week in defense of their First Amendment right to cover the president.

Trump cut off Acosta as he tried to press a point during the Nov. 7 press conference over refugees marching through Mexico toward the U.S. border. The reporter refused to surrender a microphone to a White House aide who tried to take it away. Trump called Acosta a “rude, terrible person,” and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the correspondent’s access had been revoked because he put his hands on the female aide.

In court on Friday, the judge recounted the events leading up to the revocation of Acosta’s pass, noting that the administration’s initial explanation to the public for taking that action was based on a video that critics have said was doctored. Kelly said the video’s accuracy was questionable.

The decision to revoke Acosta’s pass is so “shrouded in mystery” that the government couldn’t say who made it, Kelly said in court.

“The government must provide Mr. Acosta with due process,” the judge said. Kelly added that Acosta and CNN had shown they were likely to prevail when the case is ultimately decided.

CNN’s parent, AT&T Inc., now has two legal wins over the president. Earlier this year, the company prevailed in court over Trump’s Justice Department to gain approval to buy CNN’s former owner, Time Warner Inc.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Acosta thanked the press for its support and thanked Kelly for the ruling. "Let’s go back to work," he said. He was back in the White House press room shortly after noon.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.