Trump says administration looking at current libel laws

Trump says administration looking at current libel laws

"Our country's libel laws are a sham and a disgrace, and do not reflect American values of fairness", Trump said at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. "So we're going to take a strong look at that".

But the president, known for being litigious himself, insisted Wednesday that existing laws don't do enough to ensure 'that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts'.

The tweeter-in-chief accused the media of "saying things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as the money pours into your bank account". Just last week, Trump's private attorneys sent a threatening letter to the publisher of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" just before publication, warning of libel liability if the book were released - which of course it was. "It got great reviews by everybody other than two networks", he added in a jab at the media present in the Cabinet room.

Wolff liberally quoted former White House strategist Stephen Bannon, who questioned Donald Trump Jr.'s patriotism.

Under the laws Trump would like to institute, proving libel would be less about meeting a high legal standard than about pleasing him. "If they were strong, it would be very helpful".

Trump's renewed calls to make it easier to sue for defamation come following the publication of an unflattering new book by author Michael Wolff.

No lawsuit has been filed.

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The president no doubt has a very personal stake in this.

Trump's first mention of changing libel laws after his inauguration came in March of past year and was in response to general negative coverage by the Times.

State courts and state legislatures are responsible for codifying protections against libel and defamation.

"We are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts", Trump said.

Public officials and figures must prove in libel cases, meaning that false statements about officials are protected unless the reporter published the information with reckless disregard for the truth.

"We consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials", Justice William Brennan wrote in his opinion.

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