Reince Priebus: The White House Has ‘Looked At’ Opening The Libel Laws So Trump Can Sue The Press

News Editor
04.30.17 10 Comments

The White House has — for better or worse — taken a breather from having its spokespeople carpet bomb Sunday morning political talk shows. However, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus trotted out today for ABC News’ This Week, where he said that changing the libel laws “is something that we’ve looked at.” In other words, Trump can’t stop raging at what he (erroneously) calls “fake news” and wants to sue media outlets for critically reporting on him.

Last October, Trump made noises about tweaking these laws while lashing out at the media for failing to grasp his “sarcasm” and daring to report his stupefying gaffes. On March 30, he again tweeted his desire to do so.

While exploring Trump’s apparent distaste for the First Amendment, George Karl asked whether Trump was serious about changing libel laws, which would would require a constitutional amendment to accomplish. Priebus said Trump wants to do something:

“I think it’s something that we’ve looked at and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story. But when you have articles out there that have no basis or fact and we’re sitting here on 24-7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters that (unintelligible)… no basis at all…”

Karl cut to the chase and asked whether Trump’s really just upset about “stories that he doesn’t like,” and Priebus answered by saying that newspapers “need to be more responsible.” Priebus then resurrected one of his own beefs:

“It’s something that as far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that’s another issue. But I think this is a frustration of unnamed sources, of things that the FBI has told me personally… is complete BS, written in a newspaper article, in my office, one-on-one, this here is not true.”

Priebus is still salty over a February NY Times story about members of the Trump campaign being in contact with Russian intelligence. The story was based upon calls that were intercepted by U.S. intelligence, but Priebus had maintained that U.S. intelligence told him the story was false. In making his claim, Priebus cited unnamed sources while complaining about papers that use unnamed sources. At the time, Fox News’ Chris Wallace told Priebus that Trump was confronting the issue like a “dictator.” Wallace also stressed, “We don’t have a state-run media … you don’t get to tell us what to do.”

In light of Trump skipping the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and spending his Saturday night complaining about “fake news” at a rally, it’s safe to say that yes, he’d appreciate opening up libel laws. However, he’d probably be opening himself up to many lawsuits in the process.

(Via ABC News)

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