Thursday, March 30, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He reacted to a bombshell New York Times article on the Russia investigation with a tweet calling for changed libel laws.

Trump has never needed much provocation to attack "the failing New York Times"--although its soaring subscription rate is one of the few positive developments in the business world that Trump deserves some credit for. But the catalyst for his anger today was most likely the Times' article revealing that two White House staffers had met in secret with Rep. Devin Nunes, the chair of the House committee investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russian election saboteurs.

The result of this meeting was that Nunes held a press conference to announce information that Trump subsequently declared himself "vindicated" by. In other words, it appears that Trump may have "laundered" information through the Nunes' committee in order to make it appear more credible.

Trump did not specify how he would change libel laws. Under current law, truth is an absolute defense to any libel claim, regardless of how damning the truth is. 

So what?

  • Until now, the importance of maintaining the dignity of the office has been enough to dissuade presidents from suing journalists for libel.
  • It's increasingly difficult to believe that unflattering reporting is really Donald Trump's biggest problem.