There has been a lot of news since Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last aired in November, such as the launch of the vaccine rollout, Wall Street’s Game Stop extravaganza and a week-long obsession with sea shanties — whatever that was about. That said, Oliver decided to usher in season 8 with one of the most pressing news stories from last week: Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
“Democrats put on a compelling forensic case about Trump’s clear role as an instigator of the January 6 riots and in response, his attorneys mounted a defense that could charitably be characterized as ‘incoherent’ with lowlights ranging from one attorney reminiscing about his childhood record collection to another subjecting the senate to an 11 minute video of Democrats simply using the word ‘fight’,” said Oliver. It might have seemed that they might weren’t trying very hard but that might be because they didn’t really have to.” He pointed out that Ted Cruz even met with Trump’s lawyers while the case was still going on to tell them that the outcome was already practically determined and that they already won.
“The thing is, he was right,” admitted Oliver. He added that Republicans were going to acquit the former Celebrity Apprentice host no matter what is a “depressing sign of how deep Trumpism runs in their party.” However, at the state level, it’s even worse.
More than a dozen state legislators participated in the “Stop the Steal” rally preceding the riots and one of them, Derrick Evans, a newly elected West Virginia state legislator actually made it inside and claimed he was a member of media to “film history”, the footage he filmed seemed to speak otherwise as he was seen yelling “Trump!” and delightfully participating in the insurrection.
Evans has since resigned — but there are more.
Oregon’s GOP put out a statement saying that the riots were a “false flag” operation designed to discredit Trump while Michigan’s top elected Republican Mike Shirkey went on tape to spread false claims saying that the deadly riots were a hoax and it was prearranged by someone funding it even though Trump who repeatedly tweeted about the January 6 protest saying things like “Be there, will be wild”.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s Republican party censured three members for not sufficiently supporting Trump including Cindy McCain. They also retweeted and tweeted out messages that helped fuel the fire that would later erupt on January 6 including a quote from the 2008 Rambo movie that read: “This is what we do, who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something” in regards to the Stop the Steal campaign.
In addition, Republican Senators in Arizona have also tried to hold the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt for refusing to turn over voting ballots and machines for inspection. A GOP lawmaker in Arizona also filed a bill that would allow the legislature to revoke election certification. In other words, if this were a law in November, the state would have given the electoral votes to Trump.
Republicans across the country have still responded to what has been called the “most secure election in U.S. history” by pushing laws that will continue to make voting more difficult. Arizona has presented 19 restrictive bills to voting rights while 33 states have introduced over 165 restrictive bills this year.
Luckily, there is H.R.1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that can curb all this voter suppression — but there’s a catch. Those bills have a good chance of getting enacted if they end the filibuster. To do this, all Democrats must be on board — Joe Manchin does not want to kill the filibuster. That makes things difficult.
“It’s bad enough [he’s] defending the filibuster to defend the legacy of Robert C. Byrd, a man who literally used to try and block the original Voting Rights Act in 1964,” Oliver said. Byrd used the thing Manchin is advocating for in the worst possible way.
“It’d be like promoting Zoom by reminding everyone that Jeffrey Toobin used it,” quipped Oliver.
In addition to Manchin, Oliver points out that Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema and Dianne Feinstein have defended the filibuster while President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have remained “lukewarm” on the issue.
“Democrats simply cannot afford to rest on their laurels right now — Republicans definitely aren’t!” he insisted. “They made it abundantly clear they’re willing to take things to drastic levels and Democrats just don’t seem remotely prepared to meet that threat right now.”
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