UPDATED: President Trump tweeted a rebuke directly at a guest of Real Time with Bill Maher after apparently tuning-in to the HBO show on Friday during an especially savage anti-Trump episode. The Commander-in-Chief’s social media sniping was aimed not at the firebrand host but at Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor under President Obama.
On air, Rice had methodically flayed the GOP incumbent for the ineptitude of his foreign policy moves and the long-range consequences of Trump’s most recent geo-political misadventures. Rice, plugging her new book, also said that Trump’s polarizing presence in the American political arena has made the country more vulnerable to foreign influence.
“What Putin’s genius is, is he understands that we are so divided internally,” said Rice, who was also U.N. Ambassador. “And I argue in my book, Tough Love, that our domestic political divisions are, in fact, our greatest national security vulnerability.”
The leader of the Free World responded in the show’s final minute via Twitter by trashing Rice (he dismissed her as “a disaster” twice in one tweet) and tossed blame for “millions killed” at the feet of his White House predecessor, President Obama.
Rice fired back with a question that implied Trump was being hypocritical with his snarky rejoinder. The former ambassador wasn’t exactly diplomatic in her reply, which describes a fleeting 2015 encounter with Trump as “totally gross” due to an undesired embrace.
The timing of Trump’s tweet suggests that he was watching Real Time in, well, real time, during it’s live broadcast (starting at 10 pm on East Coast). That doesn’t necessarily mean the president was an intentional viewer of the HBO show: in August, after all, Trump tweeted that he “got to see, by accident, wacko comedian Bill Maher’s show.” The politician’s errant viewing of the HBO series left him bemoaning “so many lies,” which he addressed with tweets that went out to his 66 million followers.
Trump, regrettably, did not address the concluding message of the Friday episode: Bill Maher said liberal-leaning Hollywood actors, sports heroes, and music stars should put their money where their collective mouth is by chipping in $1 million each towards a payment big enough to persuade President Trump into leaving office.
The host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher made the declaration at the end of Friday night’s episode and even illustrated his sincerity by waving a signed personal check that would seed the slush fund with $1 million of the comedian’s own money.
The winking offer of a payoff was part of a show-closing tirade about the President’s long history of putting cash first and ethics last. The sequence included images and video snippets that portrayed Trump as a greedy but buffoonish opportunist.
“The only time corruption bothers Donald Trump is when he’s not in on it,” Maher said, rattling off the businessman-turned-politician’s mercenary track record. The acid-tongued Maher had some savagely funny references along the way. Maher replayed the recent footage of Trump ascending the steps of Air Force One with a white square of fluttery paper stuck to one shoe heel, for instance, and offered as explanation: “Trump is always for sale. That wasn’t toilet paper on his shoe. It was a price tag.”
Maher also scrolled through a long list with hundreds of famous names, among them George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Harrison Ford, and Leonadro DiCaprio, and confidently predicted that they would jump at the chance to kick in on a Trump ouster fund which, Maher added, could be collected under a “Prickstarter” campaign. (It wasn’t clear if that celeb list including filmmaker Michael Moore, who Maher challenged recently with another put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is moment).
Funny stuff but of course any kind of compensation offered to a sitting president to secure his resignation would not just qualify as an illegal bribe under federal law it would in fact define the offense.
However, the quid pro quo as described by Maher was a bit foggy (at first the $1 million check was for a wager, then it was a payment for Trump if he quits his reelection bid, then maybe it was intended to secure a more timely resignation?) but perhaps that will work in Maher’s defense when the U.S. Attorney’s Office reaches out to discuss the attempted bribery of a federal official. Scoff if you will but there’s some case history to consider.
Back in 2013, Citizen Trump filed a $5 million lawsuit against Maher claiming the comedian was in breach of contract. The reason? During an appearance on The Tonight Show, Maher had offered $5 million for documented proof that Trump was not the offspring of an orangutan (a jab at candidate Trump’s earlier goading of President Obama to produce passport and college records for a similar payout). Trump eventually dropped the suit much to the amusement of Maher.