Reince Priebus on Changing Libel Laws: ‘That’s Something We’ve Looked At’

April 30, 2017, 3:09 PM UTC

One day after President Trump declined to attend the White House correspondents dinner to host a rally in Pennsylvania, his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the administration was considering changes to libel laws.

“I think that’s something we’ve looked at, and how that gets executed and whether that goes anywhere is a different story,” Priebus said in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Priebus was also pressed about whether the President should be able to sue newspapers like the New York Times for unfair coverage. Currently, people in the U.S. only have grounds for a lawsuit if they can prove “actual malice,” which means the reporter knew the information was false, but published it anyway.

“I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news,” Priebus responded, citing what he believes are a multitude of articles with “no basis or fact,” as well as constant reports floating the President’s contact with Russia.

Priebus’ response aligned with remarks Trump had made on the campaign trail, where he told supporters that, if he won, he would open libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists for unfair coverage. “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” Trump said last March.

But changing these laws would require a constitutional amendment — a huge undertaking that Priebus acknowledged the difficulty of accomplishing.

“This [libel laws changes] is something that is being looked at. As far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that’s another issue,” Priebus said.

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