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Federal Judge Orders White House To Restore Playboy Reporter's Press Pass

Brian Karem's credential was suspended in August after his Rose Garden altercation with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.

Playboy magazine senior White House correspondent Brian Karem has become the second journalist to win a battle against the Trump administration for the return of his press pass.

On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered the White House to reinstate Karem’s credential after it was suspended for 30 days last month following his Rose Garden shouting match with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.

In retaliation, Karem, backed by Playboy and attorney Ted Boutrous Jr., filed a lawsuit on Aug. 20 against President Donald Trump and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

Shortly after news of his victory broke, Karem, who is also a CNN political analyst, told HuffPost he’s “feeling great” and expects to return to work on Wednesday morning. 

“Thanks to the D.C. judge for seeing it logically,” he said. “Thank you to the First Amendment and to due process and the free press.”

Despite the triumph, Karem doesn’t believe his case will be the last time the Trump administration goes after journalists’ press passes.

“This is not the first time this administration has weaponized our press passes,” he noted. “I’m sure they’re going to try to approach it from another angle again.”

Thank you to the First Amendment and to due process and the free press. Brian Karem, Playboy magazine senior White House correspondent

Last November, the White House temporarily revoked CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s pass after an intern attempted to grab a microphone from his hand during a heated exchange between the reporter and the president.

CNN then sued the president and White House staff, eventually dropping the suit after Acosta’s credential was restored.

In a statement to HuffPost, Boutrous said he’s “very pleased” with the outcome of his client’s case.

“The White House’s suspension of his press credentials violated the First Amendment and due process,” he added.

In the wake of the judge’s ruling, Grisham spoke out against the decision in a statement, claiming it “essentially gives free [rein] to members of the press to engage in unprofessional, disruptive conduct at the White House.”

“Mr. Karem’s conduct, including threatening to escalate a verbal confrontation into a physical one to the point that a Secret Service agent intervened, clearly breached well-understood norms of professional conduct,” she said. “The Press Secretary must have the ability to deter such unacceptable conduct.”

Karem’s pass was suspended on Aug. 5, nearly a month after his July 11 altercation with Gorka.

In footage of the spat, Gorka can be heard asking Karem, “You’re threatening me in the White House? In the Rose Garden?”

He then declares that Karem is “not a journalist,” but a “punk.”

As the confrontation fizzles and Gorka marches off, Karem yells back, telling him to “get a job.”

After his client’s press pass was suspended, Boutrous contended that the White House made an “arbitrary decision” to “punish reporters and press coverage that President Trump doesn’t like.”

This article has since been updated with Grisham’s statement.

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