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OPINION: White House Intern Should Sue Acosta for Battery



Thursday, CNN’s Jim Acosta placed his hands on a White House intern who attempted, at President Donald J. Trump’s request, to remove the microphone from Acosta after he hijacked the White House press briefing.

I am not a lawyer. In fact, I’m a proud law school dropout. But I did do a full year in law school prison before being paroled to report the news and author a book (which you should all pre-order when it becomes available). I completed enough law school, however, to learn criminal law and torts, both of which teach the fundamental elements of the crime of battery.

Acosta’s actions unequivocally fit the common law definition of tortious battery. At common law, a tortious battery is defined as 1) intent 2) to cause 3) physical contact.

The intent element only extends to the causing of the contact. Acosta certainly intended to cause the contact with the intern. He intentionally pushed her arm away as she tried to take the microphone from him, an act which some have described as a “karate chop.” In a tortious battery, physical contact need not cause injury. The plaintiff simply must show that unlawful, unpermitted contact was made with his or her person.

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People have been sued for battery for far less egregious actions than Acosta’s. A classic law school case used to illustrate the elements of battery is one where the plaintiff had smoke blown in his face by a defendant. The physical contact in that case is the smoke – considered an extension of the defendant – making unpermitted contact with the plaintiff’s face.

If for nothing else, the intern should file a lawsuit against Acosta to prove a point. He is absolutely out of control during the White House press briefings. When the leader of the free world says that your time is up, you listen. It is not an invitation for an argument. It is certainly not an invitation to have a wrestling match with an intern.

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