On Sunday’s “ABC This Week,” Priebus was asked by host Jonathan Karl about Trump’s campaign promise in February 2016 to make it easier to hold the press accountable for printing false or misleading stories.
“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. “We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”
Priebus responded that the administration did look into what steps they could take.
“I think it’s something we have looked at, and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story,” Priebus said. “But when you have articles out there that have no basis in fact and we’re sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters …”
“So you think the President should be able to sue The New York Times,” Karl interrupted.
“I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news. I am so tired…”
Karl interrupted again: “I don’t think anybody would disagree with that,” he said. “It’s about whether or not the president should have a right to sue them.”
Changing the Constitution would be an extremely difficult matter, requiring either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the states. It is also a process that is completely out of the hands of the President. Constitutional Amendments do not need to be initiated, supported or signed by the president to become official. It is one Constitutional process that leaves the Executive branch completely out of the loop.
The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that libel is only “actionable” if it is not only wrong, but printed maliciously – meaning there is proof that the publisher knew the information was false when it was disseminated.
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