Brian Stelter and CNN Lawyer Ted Boutrous Discuss Acosta Ruling: Despite Trump,’The System Worked’


Attorney Ted Boutrous argued CNN’s case against the Trump administration, in which the court ruled in favor of CNN and ordered reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass reinstated. He was on Reliable Sources on Sunday to explain to Brian Stelter what went down in the court, and what’s next.

Boutrous said the courtroom was very tense because the ruling would have an “immediate effect,” making “the anticipation and the tension so thick” in the room.”

“What did you and Acosta say to each other after the ruling came down,” asked Stelter.

“We said, this is important, this is a big victory. Because you, he said, ‘I’m just going to go back to work, and I said, that’s what this is all about,” said Boutrous. “We had a quick hug there in the courtroom, and off he went.”

Stelter then turned to what’s next.

“This temporary restraining order is, of course, temporary, so what are the next steps,” asked Stelter, and Boutrous explained that while the 14-day restraining order is in effect, the lawyers will be proposing a schedule for the next phase, which is the preliminary injunction phase, where they can get a much longer injunction against the White House.

Boutrous said that they strongly encourage the White House’s stated goal to craft rules of decorum which everyone can abide by. “That might be a path toward everybody just agreeing and going forward.”

“CNN and Mr. Acosta didn’t want to have to bring a lawsuit,” he stressed. “We wanted to work this out and say let’s go forward in a way that’s productive, but they forced our hand. They wouldn’t respond, that’s why we had to file the lawsuit.”

Boutrous said he thinks it will “all work out,” and everyone can move forward.

Stelter then suggested that having rules of decorum may be “a setback” for the press corps, “if the White House tries to enforce all sorts of new guidelines for how reporters are allowed to behave?”

Boutrous diplomatically noted that could be an “issue” but then reasonably noted that having the rules of the road benefit everyone.

“I think the rules need to be pretty basic, so that you know at least the fundamentals, so you can’t arbitrarily in retrospect get thrown out for trying to ask a follow-up question,” he said. He said the rules of behavior would be something that the White House Correspondent’s Association would sign off on these “general rules of the road.”

“We don’t want some sort of first Amendment code,” he said.

The attorney said they are willing to continue to litigate if necessary, to work with the White House on a structure, and that they are ready for whatever comes next.

To close, Stelter noted that everything went how it ought to in checking the power of the president over the First Amendment.

“In this case, though, as you were saying, the system worked. Checks and balances worked,” said Stelter. “Given the last two years of concern about stress on our institutions, Trump’s attacks on the press and the courts. In this case the press and the courts succeeded.”

“It made me feel really good as a lawyer and a citizen to see the system work this way,” agreed Boutrous, “so quickly, restore, to right the ship here, in a way that protects the First Amendment and the American people’s ability to get information about their government.”

“It was a very good day for our Constitution,” he said.

Watch the clip above, courtesy of CNN.

[Featured image via screengrab]

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