Trump vows to take a 'strong look' at 'sham' libel laws

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump reasserted his desire to strengthen libel laws Wednesday, days after the publication of a book that gave an unflattering, behind-the-scenes look at the Trump White House.

"We're going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws," the president told reporters during a meeting of his Cabinet at the White House. He went on to call current U.S. libel laws "a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness, so we’re going to take a strong look at that."

Trump did not elaborate on how he might undertake the effort, but said simply, "We're going to take a very, very strong look at it."

The idea has long been a Trump favorite: During the 2016 campaign, he often said existing rules should be somehow strengthened to take on what he called the "fake media," though it is unclear how any president could take action on the issue.

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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
CORTE MADERA, CA - JANUARY 05: Copies of the book 'Fire and Fury' by author Michael Wolff are displayed on a shelf at Book Passage on January 5, 2018 in Corte Madera, California. A controversial new book about the inner workings of the Trump administration hit bookstore shelves nearly a week earlier than anticipated after lawyers for Donald Trump issued a cease and desist letter to publisher Henry Holt & Co. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CORTE MADERA, CA - JANUARY 05: Copies of the book 'Fire and Fury' by author Michael Wolff are displayed on a shelf at Book Passage on January 5, 2018 in Corte Madera, California. A controversial new book about the inner workings of the Trump administration hit bookstore shelves nearly a week earlier than anticipated after lawyers for Donald Trump issued a cease and desist letter to publisher Henry Holt & Co. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A man holds a copy of the book 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House' by Michael Wolff after buying it at a bookstore in Washington, DC on January 5, 2018. The book was rushed into bookstores and onto e-book platforms four days ahead of schedule due to what its publisher called 'unprecedented demand' -- and after Trump's bid to block it failed. The book -- which has sent shockwaves across Washington -- quickly sold out in shops in the US capital, with some even lining up at midnight to get their hands on it. Trump has decried the instant best-seller as 'phony' and 'full of lies.' / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [January 5, 2018] instead of [December 5, 2018]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Michael Wolff, author, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House and moderator Chuck Todd appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Michael Wolff, author, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House and moderator Chuck Todd appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Savannah Guthrie and Michael Wolff on Friday, January 5, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Michael Wolff on Friday, January 5, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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As president, Trump has only intensified his battle against the press — repeatedly asserting that reporters have "no sources" for unflattering stories about Trump and his administration, and singling out various media outlets for pushing what he calls "fake news."

But Trump has been known as much for his threats to sue, as for his lack of following through when it comes to taking legal action against media outlets.

Just last week the president's personal attorney, Charles Harder, tried to stop publication of Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" book, citing defamation, libel and "actual malice" among its alleged wrongdoings. Wolff's publisher, Henry Holt, not only decided to publish the book anyway, but move up its release date.

And though it's unclear if Trump will follow through with his threat to sue Wolff, a former Trump Organization employee, Michael Cohen, filed a suit against Buzzfeed on Tuesday night for publishing a 35-page dossier alleging that Trump's presidential campaign had colluded with Russia.

"Enough is enough," Cohen said in a tweet.

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Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen
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Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

(Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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