White House Weighs Appeal In Battle Over Journalist's Press Pass

The Trump administration says it may ask a federal appellate court to reconsider a recent order requiring the White House press secretary to restore journalist Brian Karem's press credentials.

That earlier ruling, issued last month by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, “raises significant issues concerning the White House’s ability to maintain decorum and professionalism by reporters granted the privilege of access to the White House grounds,” attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice write in papers filed last week.

The Justice Department lawyers said they are still awaiting the Acting Solicitor General's authorization to seek a re-hearing, and asked for additional time to file the paperwork.

On Monday, the D.C. Circuit gave the White House until August 19 to seek review by the entire court.

The fight over Karem's press credentials dates to President Trump's July 2019 “social media summit,” which involved convening right-wing activists to discuss alleged bias by tech companies.



Toward the end of the summit, Trump gave a prepared speech at the Rose Garden. Karem, a correspondent for Playboy and analyst on CNN, was among the journalists present in a cordoned press area for that speech. Afterwards, he and former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka publicly argued.

Three weeks later, former Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Karem his “hard” press pass -- which allowed him relatively quick entree to the White House -- would be suspended for 30 days due to his “unprofessional” conduct.

Karem then sought a court order restoring his credentials. Among other arguments, he said the revocation violated his right to due process of law, because he didn't have fair notice that his press pass could be revoked for one month due to allegedly unprofessional conduct.

A trial judge sided with Karem and issued an injunction requiring the restoration of his credentials.

The White House appealed to the D.C. Circuit, which upheld the trial judge's ruling.

The judges said Karem's due process claim appears likely to succeed because the White House failed to give him adequate notice that he could lose access for 30 days -- described by the judges as “an eon in today’s news business” -- due to “purportedly unprofessional conduct at the non-press-conference event.”

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