Just days after the publication of a damaging tell-all White House exposé, US President Donald Trump has vowed to take “a strong look” at his country’s “sham” libel laws.
Speaking during a Cabinet meeting, Mr Trump said that people shouldn’t be able to say things that are false and then “smile as money pours into your bank account”.
“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace, and do not represent American values or American fairness,” he said. “We’re going to take a very, very strong look at that. And I think what the American people want to see is fairness.”
Mr Trump’s renewed calls to make it easier to sue for defamation come following the publication of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, an unflattering new book by author Michael Wolff.
Fire and Fury portrays the 45th president as surrounded by aides who believe he’s unfit for the office he holds. He and other White House aides have blasted the book as inaccurate trash.
Brian Hauss, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that Mr Trump’s threat lacks teeth.
“There is no federal libel law, and the president does not have the authority to change state libel laws,” he said.
“Whatever President Trump might think, he has no power to override these constitutional protections.”
Mr Wolff said his book, which he says is based on more than 200 interviews with administration insiders, went on sale Friday (US time) in apparent gambit by the publisher to foil efforts by lawyers for Mr Trump to halt its release.
Mr Trump immediately branded the book a “boring and untruthful” and lashed out at Mr Wolff on Twitter, calling him a “total loser” and also criticising former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon who spoke to Mr Wolff for the book.
“Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book,” Mr Trump wrote.
“He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
– With AAP