Trump Once Again Threatens to Change Federal Libel Laws That Don't Exist

Donald Trump medical exam

The accusations were made in author Michael Wolff's salacious tome Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

"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", he added.

Prior to a meeting on Wednesday with his Cabinet, Donald Trump allowed cameras into the White House and made a few remarks that landed in the headlines.

Donald Trump
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President Trump renewed his call for a federal libel law on Wednesday, saying people who are subject to false and defamatory accusations should have "meaningful recourse" in federal courts.

"Before Trump puts these new libel laws in place, I just want to say Donald Trump is the illegitimate love child of a racist manatee and a deflated balloon", Colbert joked.

Trump also took aim at the libel laws when asked about the book over the weekend at Camp David, saying it "would be very helpful" to have tougher laws to push back against the book. "You wouldn't have things like that happen where you can say whatever comes to your head".

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Trump's attorney threatened to sue Wolff to prevent the publication of the book, but its release date was moved up in response to overwhelming demand. No lawsuit has yet been filed.

If you've been paying attention to the politics and policies of President Trump at least over the last two years, you'll notice something very odd has been happening, particularly this week.

The president said his position on the border wall will "never change", but on DACA, we "want to see something".

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

But unless you work in journalism, Hollywood or politics, it is unlikely you will ever have to learn much about defamation law, a patchwork of state laws that govern the crime of publishing deliberately false statements about someone with the intent of damaging that person.

Trump's complaints about libel are not new; he has somewhat regularly called for tougher libel laws as he has smarted over news coverage, decried "fake" news and pointed out corrections from news outlets.

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And then there's that landmark Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan, which established the "actual malice" standard for public officials.

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