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CNN sues Donald Trump over Jim Acosta's credentials: Only four other US presidents have faced lawsuits while in office

CNN on Tuesday sued US president Donald Trump demanding that its correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials to cover the White House be returned. The administration had revoked Acosta's credentials on 7 November, after he and Trump had a heated confrontation during a news conference.

The argument began when Acosta asked Trump about the caravan of migrants heading from Latin America to the southern US border. When Acosta tried to follow up with another question, Trump said, "That's enough!" and a female White House aide unsuccessfully tried to grab the microphone from Acosta.

A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN's Jim Acosta as he questions Donald Trump. Reuters

A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN's Jim Acosta as he questions Donald Trump. Reuters

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed against Trump, the White House responded with a statement. “This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” The New York Times quoted press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders as saying. According to the report, Sanders in her statement that dozens of other CNN journalists have retained their White House credentials.

Speaking about the incident, she said: “The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional.”

While Trump is the first US president to be sued by the media, he is not the first president to be sued to begin with. He has been no stranger to lawsuits prior to taking office as well. USA Today reported that as of October 2016, “at least 75 of the 4,000-plus lawsuits involving Trump and his businesses remain open.”

Four other presidents, Harry Truman, John F Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, were also hit with lawsuits while in the Oval Office. But, it's worth pointing out that none of those were filed by media houses.

Here is a look at the lawsuits against them:

Theodore Roosevelt: Roosevelt, the 26th President of the US, was sued when he was serving as chairman of the New York City police by a patrolman named John Hurley who had been dismissed. The case was dismissed without an opinion, but Hurley continued appealing. The case was not finally disposed of until Roosevelt was serving as president in 1904.

— Harry Truman: Attorney Roy DeVault sued Truman in 1944 after he, during his tenure as a judge in Missouri's Jackson County, ruled that DeVault was "insane" and committed him to an asylum. A trial court granted Truman’s motion to dismiss, and DeVault appealed. One year later, the Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the dismissal.

— John F Kennedy: During Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1960, an automobile accident in California resulted in two companion lawsuits being filed against him. After he assumed office, his lawyers argued for the case being dismissed, but the request was denied without a written opinion. The cases were settled out of court.

— Bill Clinton: Paula Jones, who was working for the State of Arkansas in 1991, sued Clinton during his time as Arkansas governor, claiming sexual harassment at a conference being held at a Little Rock hotel. She claimed that one of Clinton's guards informed her the governor would like to see her in his suite.  Upon arriving, she claimed Clinton dropped his pants and asked her for a sexual favour. Clinton had sought to delay the lawsuit until after his term as president, but that claim was rejected. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court had ruled in 1997 that a sitting president has no immunity from civil litigation for alleged conduct before taking office. Clinton also relied on a private law firm, and his loss caused lasting damage for his successors, USA Today reported.

As per a report from The New York Times, Trump’s lawyers in a court filing last week cited the Clinton versus Jones case as precedent to support their argument. His counsel asked for an extension for the case to be heard. The plea says that as per the US Constitution, the president is immune from being sued in state court while in office.


Updated Date: Nov 14, 2018 10:10 AM

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