UPDATED with video: President Donald Trump pretty much secured the main talking point for this week’s Real Time With Bill Maher after a Wednesday press conference in which Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election to Joe Biden.
The topic of the concern over whether Trump would refuse to vacate the White House peacefully has been front and center for Maher for almost two years. It came up time and time again in Friday night’s show, from pressing Sen. Bernie Sanders on what a plan might look like if Trump declined to exit in January if Biden wins, to clear frustration that it’s taken “mainstream media” outlets so long to catch up to his concerns.
“It does f*ckin’ stick in my craw that nobody listened to me and that I got no help from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN — mainstream media, should have amplified,” he said. “Mainstream media — I got no help amplifying the point I was making.”
The subject took up the majority of the opening conversation from Sanders, who appeared via video (Maher was back in the studio for a third week in a row in front of a notably small, socially distanced audience).
“If Trump attempts to stay in office after losing, there will be a number of plans out there to make sure he is evicted from office,” Sanders said, echoing some of what he said in his last Real Time appearance in April. At one point during a Sanders answer, Maher nudged back, “I still don’t know what the plan is.” (See the entire video above.)
During the midshow panel with author and CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers and Manhattan Institute fellow and podcaster Coleman Hughes, an engaging discussion on race eventually turned back to what Maher called “the theme that has obsessed me.”
He showed two montages — one of previous Real Time episodes dating to April 2018 featuring Maher asking the question of what if Trump doesn’t leave office if he loses, another of Trump mentioning Maher’s theory during several rally speeches.
Afterward, he turned to Trump’s comments earlier in the week.
“There’s a headline I saw in the New York Times yesterday, ‘Trump Won’t Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power’ — and it was on page 15,” Maher said. “This was not the paper I grew up with, but OK.”
He relayed the main points of Trump’s comments, in response to a question from Playboy reporter Brian Karem, which included the president saying “we’re going to have to see what happens.” Maher read a passage from NYT reporter Michael Crowley’s report, which said in part that “Mr. Trump’s refusal — or inability — to endorse perhaps the most fundamental tenet of American democracy, as any president in memory surely would have, was the latest instance in which he has cast grave uncertainty around the November election and its aftermath.”
“I would put that on the front page – but that’s just crazy me,” Maher said.
He added that he was going to drop the subject — though that doesn’t seem likely with 38 days to go until the election.
Maher is off next week and returns with a fresh show October 9.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.