President Donald Trump called the nation’s libel laws “a sham and a disgrace” on Wednesday and promised to make it easier for people to sue publications for defamation, but some called his pledge an attack on the First Amendment.
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“We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws, so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts,” Trump said during a cabinet meeting Wednesday. “You can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account.”
But comedians on the late-night TV circuit were quick to point out that Trump’s promise came just days after he made a failed attempt to stop the publication of Michael Wolff's tell-all book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
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“This is something every American's concerned about, and that is, strengthening libel laws to punish those who publish unflattering books about you,” “Live” host Jimmy Kimmel said during his opening monologue Wednesday.
“Saying ‘knowingly false things while the money pours into your bank account?’ Not only is that Trump's business plan in its entirety -- it's literally what they're going to write on his headstone: ‘He knowingly said false things while money poured into his bank accounts,’" he added.
Stephen Colbert made a similar argument over on “The Late Show” and alleged that Trump was working to “destroy the First Amendment.”
“I had not seen him get this angry about a book since he finished ‘The Monster at the End of This Book,’” Colbert said, referring to the popular children’s book. “You read the whole thing, turns out it's just Grover, fake news!
“And in response to this momentary aggravation he has a modest plan to destroy the First Amendment,” he added.
Colbert took the opportunity to get one more offensive Trump joke off his chest before any laws changed.
“Before Trump puts these new libel laws in place, I just want to say Donald Trump is the illegitimate love child of a racist manatee and a deflated balloon,” Colbert joked.
“Donald Trump set fire to the Hindenburg and once told me on the record that he enjoyed the movie ‘Suicide Squad.’ See you in court,” Colbert added.