As Donald Trump seems to be spiraling out of control, we are all privy to witnessing some pretty odd and un-presidential behavior. Trump has been pretty lucky so far. There has been so much spin coming out of the White House, it is easy for listeners to come away from a Sarah Sanders or Kelly Ann Conway diatribe and question their own sanity. Maybe it was the biggest inauguration crowd ever, or sure, some alternative facts might explain what’s going on here.
We are currently one week removed from the nearly two-hour long press conference that followed the midterm elections. The event itself was full of spin. Trump explained how a major loss for him was really a win, and how he will be able to work with the Democrats – whom he has been calling criminals – on an infrastructure bill. The inability of the world to see things through Trump’s eyes led to an angry Trump, pacing behind the podium, pointing fingers at reporters, complaining he could not understand anyone with an accent, and ultimately removing a press pass from CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Legal support has been widely offered to those who see this case as a First Amendment case, clear and simple. We have seen surprising support from Fox News, which stated its intention to file an Amicus Curiae Brief (Friend of the Court) in support of Acosta, CNN and against Trump, claiming that it was incorrect to “weaponize” the press pass. This battle is not likely to see an immediate end. The Justice Department responded by declaring that there is no Constitutional right to access or enter the White House, further stating that Trump has discretion to deny access to any events within the White House.
In other words, according to the Justice Department, this is not a First Amendment issue. The suit claims that Donald Trump engaged in an “unabashed attempt to censor the press”. If there is no settlement, CNN is seeking a jury trial. Can Trump decide who has access to the White House? Can he decide that the entire press pool is too antagonistic toward him, and should therefore be denied access? This is a likely question if this case ever gets to court.