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.”
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: