President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he intends to “take a strong look” at libel laws to make sure they cover published statements that are malicious and known to be untrue — the very definition of libel.
Trump made the tautological — if vaguely threatening — statement to reporters at a cabinet meeting.
“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,” he said.
Trump said he wants “fairness.”
“If somebody says something that’s totally false and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled, will have meaningful recourse,” he said. “Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness.”
“You can’t say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account,” Trump added.
It was unclear whether Trump was referring to a specific statement he believes to be false, but the White House has taken particular issue with author Michael Wolff’s account of goings-on in Trump’s administration on what it claims is a similar basis.
The White House claimed last week that Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” is “trashy tabloid fiction.”
Wolff on Tuesday claimed that the book had sold a million copies as of Monday afternoon, in just four days, and publisher Henry Holt and Co. raised its initial announced printing of the book from 150,000 to to more than a million copies.