White House Mulls Appeal In Battle Over Alleged Retaliation Against Journalists

The White House says it is considering appealing a judge's recent decision to allow the organization PEN America to proceed with claims that President Donald Trump retaliated against journalists.

In papers filed this week with U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield in the Southern District of New York, the Department of Justice says it is still “exploring the possibility” of seeking to appeal her recent ruling. At this stage of the proceedings, the White House can only appeal Schofield's ruling with permission from Schofield and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Justice Department makes the statement as part of a request to extend its time to answer PEN America's claims to May 19 -- six weeks from the current deadline of April 7.

The government also argues it needs the extension due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The battle between PEN America and the White House dates to 2018, when the organization sought a declaratory judgment that Trump violated the constitution by retaliating against journalists based on their viewpoints, and by threatening the media in a way that could chill free speech.



The group also sought an injunction prohibiting the federal government from taking action against media organizations and journalists for their criticism of the White House.

Among other claims, the organization alleged that the administration wrongly revoked the press credentials of CNN's Jim Acosta after a contentious November 2019 press conference. (A federal judge in Washington, D.C. subsequently ordered the government to restore Acosta's press pass.)

Schofield ruled late last month that PEN America was entitled to pursue its request for a declaratory judgment. But she said the organization could not proceed with its request for an injunction, given that Trump has “discretionary authority” over matters like security clearances.

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