(COMMONDREAMS) — During comments to the press at the opening of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that among his administration’s top priorities in the coming year would be taking a closer look at the nation’s libel laws, a suggestion that drew immediate howls from critics and legal experts who say the president has no business trying to silence those who criticize or speak out against elected government officials.
“We’re going to be taking a look at our nation’s libel laws,” Trump said, “so that when someone says something that is false and defamatory about someone that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts.”
Trump promises "to take a strong look at our country's libel laws," calling the current laws "a sham and a disgrace, and do not represent American values." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/5tspV2mfMW
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 10, 2018
Last week, after the excerpts from an explosive book by journalist Michael Wolff were released, Trump’s attorneys sent cease-and-desist letters to individuals quoted in the book and also tried to block the publisher from releasing it. “The libel laws are very weak in this country,” Trump said Wednesday. “If they were strong, it would be very helpful. You wouldn’t have things like that happen where you can say whatever comes to your head.”
Social media was quick to point out the president’s hypocrisy, lack of self-awareness, and the troubling implications of a president—especially one known for being a serial liar—who thinks it should be a national priority to clamp down on the rights of people who may say things that he personally finds unpleasant:
Trump claims “ libel laws are a sham” whining “people can say totally false things about you” This from the birther guy!! #ZeroSelfAwareness
— janet l true (@tru50liv) January 10, 2018
Trump has repeatedly threatened changes to libel laws, or to revoke media licenses, or to sue to stop publication of material that critiques him. In Turkey, Erdogan targets critical media in similar ways—threats and targeting profits—to undercut critical press outlets. https://t.co/OnzotYH7J2
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) January 10, 2018
Trump says he wants to revamp the libel laws a day after his lawyer filed a defamation suit against buzzfeed.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) January 10, 2018
This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.