Trump vows 'strong look' at 'sham' libel laws

Image: Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington
President Donald Trump, seated next to Secretary Ryan Zinke, left and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington on Jan. 10, 2018.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

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By Ali Vitali

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump reasserted his desire to strengthen libel laws Wednesday, days after the publication of a book that gave an unflattering, behind-the-scenes look at the Trump White House.

"We're going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws," the president told reporters during a meeting of his Cabinet at the White House. He went on to call current U.S. libel laws "a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness, so we’re going to take a strong look at that."

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Trump did not elaborate on how he might undertake the effort, but said simply, "We're going to take a very, very strong look at it."

The idea has long been a Trump favorite: During the 2016 campaign, he often said existing rules should be somehow strengthened to take on what he called the "fake media," though it is unclear how any president could take action on the issue.

As president, Trump has only intensified his battle against the press — repeatedly asserting that reporters have "no sources" for unflattering stories about Trump and his administration, and singling out various media outlets for pushing what he calls "fake news."

But Trump has been known as much for his threats to sue, as for his lack of following through when it comes to taking legal action against media outlets.

Just last week the president's personal attorney, Charles Harder, tried to stop publication of Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" book, citing defamation, libel and "actual malice" among its alleged wrongdoings. Wolff's publisher, Henry Holt, not only decided to publish the book anyway, but move up its release date.

And though it's unclear if Trump will follow through with his threat to sue Wolff, a former Trump Organization employee, Michael Cohen, filed a suit against Buzzfeed on Tuesday night for publishing a 35-page dossier alleging that Trump's presidential campaign had colluded with Russia.

"Enough is enough," Cohen said in a tweet.