Priebus: Trump Administration Looking to Change the Libel Laws

By Melanie Arter | May 1, 2017 | 11:22am EDT
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (Screenshot of ABC video )

( – White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” on Sunday that President Donald Trump is considering changing the libel laws, saying “it’s something that we’ve looked at.”

“First of all, there was what he said about opening up the libel laws, tweeting, ‘The failing ‘New York Times’ has disgraced the media world, gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change the libel laws.’ That would require, as I understand it, a constitutional amendment. Is he really going to pursue that? Is that something he wants to pursue?” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked.


“I think it's something that we've looked at and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story, but when you have articles out there that have no basis or fact and we're sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters that have no basis at all…” Priebus said.

When asked if he thinks the president should be able to sue The New York Times for stories he doesn’t like, Priebus said, “Here's what I think. I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news.”

Karl said he didn’t think anyone would disagree with the assertion that news organizations should be more responsible in their reporting but asked again whether the president should have the right to sue them.

“And I already answered the question. I said this is something that is being looked at, but it's something that as far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that's another issue,” Priebus said.

He pointed to the media’s reporting that the Trump administration colluded with Russia.

“But I think this is a frustration of unnamed sources, of things that the FBI has told me personally is complete BS, written in a newspaper article, in my office, one-on-one, this here is not true, and guess what? But it's sitting there on the front page. So how is it possible? And what do we have? Twenty-four seven cable about a story about intelligence that the actual intelligence agency says is not true, but yet we deal with it every day,” Priebus said.

Karl turned to the issue of flag burners, who Trump said should go to jail or have their citizenship revoked.

When asked whether the president plans to pursue those consequences for flag burners, Priebus said, “You know, there's one thing that we have in common as Americans is our American flag, and I think it's something that, again, is probably going to get looked at, but our flag should be protected, and it's Donald Trump that talks about that issue. And you know what? It's a 70 percent issue in this country. He wins every day and twice on Sunday on our flag.”

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