CNN Contributor Plans to Sue White House Over Press Pass Suspension

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Reporter Brian Karem argues with Sebastian Gorka

Brian Karem was told by the White House on Friday that his suspension appeal was not successful.

Brian Karem, a CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for Playboy magazine, announced on Friday that he will sue after learning that his press pass will be suspended for 30 days.

Karem first received notification on Aug. 2 from the White House that his pass would be temporarily revoked because of his combative interaction with former administration staffer and Salem Radio host Sebastian Gorka after a White House event on July 11.

Karem, working with attorney Theodore Boutrous, sent an appeal letter to White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Aug. 9.

"I understand that Ms. Grisham says she has taken this action against my hard pass because I insulted White House guests and escalated the situation," he wrote in the five-page letter. "The escalation ran the other direction, as did the insults. The crowd was heckling the journalists, and singled me out because of my parting question to President Trump. Then Gorka singled me out, and interpreted my friendly attempt to defuse the situation as a threat. At no point in time was I ever of the mind-set I was going to fight anyone."

But, on Friday, Karem got word that his appeal had been unsuccessful. "We will now go to court and sue," he announced on Twitter.

In a statement, Boutrous said: "The White House press secretary’s arbitrary decision to suspend Brian Karem’s hard pass press credential violates the First Amendment and due process and is yet another example of this administration’s unconstitutional campaign to punish reporters and press coverage that President Trump doesn’t like. The president and his administration are fostering an atmosphere of hostility and violence towards journalists that cannot be tolerated and they are illegally using the credential process to stifle freedom of the press and to disrupt the flow of vital information to the American people.  We intend to seek immediate relief in federal court."

"I am suing them because what they did was wrong," Karem told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday.

Karem said he's been "in limbo" for the last two weeks, as he's waited to see if the White House would go ahead with the "preliminary decision" Grisham had reached.

"Your disruptive behavior at the press event in the Rose Garden on July 11, 2019 violated the basic standards governing such events and as is, in our preliminary judgement, sufficient factual basis to suspend your hard pass for 30 days," Grisham wrote to him. "Your gross breach of decorum and disruption of the orderly functioning of a White House press event cannot be tolerated."

On Nov. 16, a federal judge granted CNN's request for a temporary restraining order that returned Jim Acosta's badge, finding that his due process rights had been violated.