Stung by Wolff Book, Trump Calls for Stronger US Libel Laws

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US law does not empower the president to change the nation's libel laws.

"Can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account", Trump said at his Cabinet meeting.

"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.

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"I think what the American people want to see is fairness".

Days after a blistering book took shots at his administration, Trump renewed his call for a federal libel law to punish writers and broadcasters behind fake news and lies. 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.

The book set off a cascading string of events, part of which culminated with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who was widely quoted in the book, getting booted from his white nationalist perch at Breitbart.

Trump first raised the idea of libel law reform during a February 2016 campaign rally in Fort Worth, Texas, warning the Times and The Washington Post that 'we're going to open up those libel laws, folks, and we're going to have people sue you like you never got sued before'.

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He also pledged during his presidential campaign to "open up" libel laws "so when they write purposely negative and frightful, false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money".

President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to rewrite US libel law, after an explosive book portrayed him as out of his depth in the White House. Nor did he identify what, exactly, the administration will be "taking a very very strong look at".

"Trump is not changing - and he never will change - the libel laws in this country, despite his rhetoric", said Richard Roth, a NY based white collar litigator and founder of the Roth Law Firm. "There is no federal libel law, and the president does not have the authority to change state libel laws".

Specifically, the Court's 1964 ruling in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan holds that false statements about public figures-specifically public officials-cannot be the basis for defamation or libel judgments unless they are "knowingly" or "recklessly" false.

"He's trying to usurp the judiciary, and it's not going to work", Roth said.

For now, Roth said, Trump's threat to change libel laws is just "another silly declaration" from the White House.

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