John Oliver kicked off the latest edition of Last Week Tonight reminding viewers the week started well when President Donald Trump addressed Congress with what appeared to be a “more disciplined tone.” He got rave reviews. And, for almost 24 hours, it seemed like the White House might finally be “getting on track.”
Until, that is, Washington Post reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had not revealed he’d met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States while he was still a senator and adviser to Trump’s campaign.
“Yes, Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, the unfortunate result of Dobby the House Elf’s one-night stand with a Confederate flag, got in trouble this week for undisclosed meetings with Russia’s ambassador,” Oliver snarked.
That in itself is not against the law. The problem is Sessions’ confirmation hearing included an exchange in which Sen. Al Franken asked him what, as AG, he would do if there was any evidence anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government during the course of Trump’s campaign.
Sessions responded that he was not aware of any of such activities, then volunteered that he has been called a surrogate for the campaign and did not have any such communications with the Russians.
That is known is known as an “unforced error,” Oliver marveled. “He wasn’t even asked.”
Sessions eventually announced he would recuse himself from any investigation into campaign reps meeting with Russian reps. But that might not be enough, given the calls for his resignation.
Sessions is just one of several men working for Trump who met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. There is nothing inherently wrong there, Oliver reminded. But every time a Trump associate is asked about Russia, they respond as if they’re trying to hide something, with denials so unconvincing they set off unplugged polygraph machines in nearby closets, the HBO host said.
“It is not clear what is really going on here yet,” Oliver acknowledged. “One possibility is that this all amounts to what I’m going to call ‘Stupid Watergate’: potential scandal with all the intrigue of Watergate, except everyone involved is really bad at everything. And the relevant questions isn’t so much ‘What did the president know and when did he know it?’ as it is, ‘Is the president physically capable of knowing things at all?’
Because, on Saturday, Trump decided his was the best way to dispel everyone’s suspicions was to tweet that he had “just found out that Obama had my wires tapped at Trump Tower” shortly before his victory.
It was one of a total four tweets on the subject, in one of which Trump misspelled “tap.”
“In 1992 Dan Quayle misspelled ‘potato’ and I became one of the most famous dumb moments in political history,” Oliver reminisced. “We are now at a point where the president is so busy hurling destabilizing conspiracy theories around we can’t even pause to enjoy the fact he misspelled the word ‘tap’.”
Trump’s evidence that Obama had committed the crime seems pretty thin, Oliver said. It’s unclear whether Trump got his information from a top-secret White House briefing or from a Breitbart post on Friday citing conspiracy-loving right-wing talk show host Mark Levin.
Instead of presenting proof of the claim, the White House on Sunday morning urged Congress to look into the allegations. Which seems an odd, what with Trump having presented a statement of fact. One of his surrogates explained to ABC’s Sunday Beltway show This Week that she thinks Trump saw information that led him to believe this is a “real potential.”
Oliver, in turn, explained, “This is how things are going to work now: the President once saw a banana with a bruise that looked like a picture in an article he read in a dream, and that is why we are at f*cking war.
“And,” he concluded, “the sad things is, deep down we all knew this week would end this way.”