President Donald Trump returned to a favorite talking point Wednesday, vowing to take a “a strong look at our national libel laws” in the aftermath of the release of author Michael Wolff’s new book, which paints a negative portrait of him and his presidency.
Trump and his personal legal team tried to halt publication of “Fire and Fury,” threatening to sue. That prompted the publisher to release the book early. The threat of legal action reflects a trend that spans Trump’s life. And the promise to try to alter libel laws was a fixture of his presidential campaign as he railed against the media industry.
As the new book continues to enjoy brisk sales, Trump told reporters on Wednesday — without being prompted — that existing libel laws are “a sham and a disgrace and not representative of American values or American fairness,” according to a pool report. He said his administration will take “a very, very strong look” at existing libel laws.
But since floating the same kind of libel law review as a presidential candidate, Trump has not ordered one since taking office almost a year ago.
The president and his top aides have spent much of the last week defending his mental state after “Fire and Fury,” which described the president as not mentally stable enough to be commander in chief.
On Saturday, Trump felt the need to call himself a “very stable genius” on Twitter. Hours later, he was asked about the allegations during a short press conference at Camp David.
Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
....Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
....to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
“I went to the best colleges. I had a situation where I was an excellent student,” the president said Saturday. He went on to note his successes in the business and television realms before noting he captured the White House on his first try.
“Then I hear this guy who … does not know me at all,” he said of Wolff, dismissing the author’s assessment of his ability to do his job.
Wolff contends he spoke with Trump for nearly three hours — on the record — for his book. The White House says they spoke only once, and briefly, but not for use in the book.