Trump suggests changes to libel laws over Woodward book

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE on Wednesday suggested changing libel laws after the release of excerpts from journalist Bob Woodward's upcoming book rocked Washington, D.C., one day earlier.

The president tweeted that Woodward's book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," was filled with inaccuracies after the White House panned the manuscript as the product of disgruntled White House employees.


"Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

"Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?" he added.

Trump has issued several tweets related to the publication of the book's excerpts on Tuesday, including several linking to reports in which various administration officials walk back their criticism of his administration quoted in the book.

The White House in a statement also called the book "nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad."

In one tweet, the president specifically denied a passage of the book that claims he used a fake Southern accent to insult Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs Ocasio-Cortez, Velázquez call for convention to decide Puerto Rico status White House officials voted by show of hands on 2018 family separations: report MORE.

"The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions 'mentally retarded' and 'a dumb southerner.' I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!" Trump tweeted Tuesday night.

The president had a similar reaction upon the release of journalist Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" in January. At the time, Trump told reporters he would "take a look" at libel laws in response to claims made in Wolff's book disputed by the White House.

“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values and American fairness,” he told reporters earlier this year. “We're going to take a very, very strong look at that.”

Any change to libel laws would have to involve bringing the offense into the realm of federal jurisdiction, as libel cases in the U.S are based on state law. No overarching federal guidelines on the offense exist.

Were Trump to push for such an overhaul, he would need the support of Congress, which has shown little interest in addressing his attacks on the press with legislation.