Donald Trump is once again threatening to change the libel laws to intimidate his critics, and that caused Fox News host Shep Smith to chuckle.
During a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump raged about Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury and specifically Steve Bannon’s remarks that were quoted.
Trump claims the book is false and that Bannon is a liar.
Trump has already tried to block the book from being published and his lawyers threatened to sue Bannon.
But now that the book is out in stores and is at the top of everyone’s reading list, Trump has decided to try a different tactic. He wants to intimidate his critics by threatening to change the libel laws.
“If somebody says something that is totally false and knowingly false, the person who has been abused, defamed, libeled will have meaningful recourse,” Trump said. “Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness. So we’re going to take a strong look at that. You can’t say things that are false or knowingly false and smile as money pours into your bank account.”
But isn’t that what Trump has done every single day since his inauguration?
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Trump has lied or made misleading statements over 2,000 times in just 355 days.
Trump has even used his lies to justify the passage of a tax bill that will increase the bottom line for both him and his businesses.
Fox host Shep Smith covered Trump’s remarks on Wednesday and he got a good laugh out of it.
“For clarity, because we’re in the position to report facts here, all of that, about libel laws, all of that was just a word salad of nothingness,” Shep Smith said after playing a clip of Trump’s remarks. “Because none of that means anything. Except, look over here. He couldn’t’ change the libel laws if he wanted to change the libel laws. He couldn’t change them if he got the Congress in there. These are state laws.”
Here’s the video via YouTube.
Indeed, libel laws are made by the states and the Supreme Court has already made it clear that there’s a high bar to clear if someone like Trump wants to sue someone for libel.
According to NPR:
In a 1964 ruling in N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan, the court unanimously decided that a public figure has to prove an offending statement was made “with actual malice, that is with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”
Bannon’s remarks about a meeting between members of Trump’s campaign and Russians inside Trump Tower in June 2016 do not constitute libel. It’s a fact that such a meeting occurred. Bannon’s opinion that such a meeting was “treasonous” is also not libel because opinions are not subject to the law.
If Trump really thinks Michael Wolff and Steve Bannon “defamed” him, he should sue. But he should also beware that in doing so, he opens himself up to exposure as a liar since he would have to prove that what was said and written is false.
Really, this is just another temper tantrum by the tyrant that deserves our ridicule.
Featured Image: YouTube screenshot