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CNN sues President Trump, demanding reporter Jim Acosta's return to the White House

The network said it was seeking 'an immediate restraining order' forcing the White House to return Acosta's White House press credentials.

CNN filed Tuesday a lawsuit against the Trump administration in federal court, demanding that the White House return correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials, the cable news network announced Tuesday.

"The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process," the network said in a statement posted to its website.

The network said it was seeking "an immediate restraining order" forcing the White House to return Acosta's White House press credentials and that it "will seek permanent relief as part of this process."

"While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone," the statement reads. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."

The administration pulled Acosta's credentials last week after a heated exchange with President Donald Trump during a White House news conference, in which the president called the CNN reporter a "rude, terrible person."

Amid the back and forth, Acosta resisted a White House aide's effort to take the microphone from him. In justifying the decision to revoke Acosta's White House pass, press secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration will "never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern."

Sanders then was criticized for tweeting a video which she claimed "clearly documented" Acosta's "inappropriate behavior." Experts said the video's speed was altered to make it appear that Acosta gave the young woman a "karate chop" when he actually gently pushed her arm away.

The video had been promoted by InfoWars, a far-right site that peddles wild conspiracies, including the outrageous assertion that the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in which 20 children died was a hoax.

The White House dismissed the lawsuit as "more grandstanding from CNN" in a statement on Tuesday.

The administration argued that CNN has nearly 50 other reporters with "hard pass" White House credentials and that "Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment." The statement cited Acosta's refusal to surrender the microphone "so that other reporters might ask their questions," as the reason for Acosta's punishment.

"The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional," the statement said. "The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business."

Sanders is named as a defendant in CNN's lawsuit, along with Trump, chief of staff John Kelly and deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine. The Secret Service, agency director Randolph Alles and an unidentified Secret Service agent are also listed as defendants in the court filing.

CNN filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C.

In the filing, the network called Acosta's "severe and unprecedented punishment" the "culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting – an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President's point of view."

Trump has declared the news media the "enemy of the American people" and CNN has consistently been the main target of his ire. He began to label the network as "fake news" before he took office, in another tense news conference on Jan. 11, 2017, in which he called Acosta "rude."

Contributing: Christal Hayes and Josh Hafner, USA TODAY