John Oliver joined us for another Last Week Tonight from his great white void and kicked off the episode by addressing a non-coronavirus related story — but it was still big news involving the White House and Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Last week, Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department moved to throw out the case in which Flynn pled guilty about lying to the FBI about his dealings with a Russian official. Oliver points out this is a crime especially considering that Flynn was lying about was his contact a Russian official and the FBI was in the midst of a Russian counterintelligence investigation.
He continues, “All of this is particularly worrying because this was a case brought up by special counsel Robert Mueller and the whole point of having special counsel investigate was to keep the process free from conflicts of interest. By dropping these charges, Barr can be setting a dangerous precedent that a president could not just pardon the subject of an investigation but have his appointees invalidate the investigation itself.”
For an Attorney General to do this, it is truly unheard of but as Oliver points out Barr “doesn’t give a fuck.”
After warming us up with Flynn news, Oliver shifted to his usual unpacking on Trump’s “inability to manage the coronavirus.” He started off by addressing Trump’s recent visit to a mask factory where he didn’t wear a mask — and at one point during the tour they played Guns N’ Roses’ “Live and Let Die”, which Oliver later connected to a Twitter feud between the band’s frontman Axl Rose and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
During a press conference, Trump was asked why he wasn’t wearing one and he claimed he was adding “I can’t help it if you didn’t see me.” Oliver said that the whole point of Trump wearing a mask was for a photo opportunity and to show what people need to be doing.
“For all of Trump’s ideological wavering over the years, one thing has remained consistent: he’s never used protection and he’s never not been an asshole about it afterward,” Oliver quips.
Since April 3, the CDC have said that masks are required for various public settings. Since then, multiple White House staffers have tested positive for coronavirus. Oliver said that Trump’s cavalier attitude has trickled down to states and many are lifting stay at home orders even though they don’t meet federal guidelines that suggest they reopen when cases decline. In essence, lives are at risk here, but in another press conference, Trump framed it as positive and says that all of us are “warriors together.”
“We don’t have to be warriors and to the extent that we are, we don’t have to go into a battle unarmed,” said Oliver. “You can’t just call everyone warriors and make their deaths not count.”
He added, “All this talk of Americans being brave warriors seems designed to accept deaths that we should be trying to prevent and yet, this administration seems, at times, actively hostile to those preventions efforts.”
Last week, the White House rejected CDC guidance on safely reopening restaurants, churches and schools and said they would “never see the light of day.”
“So this is where we are right now: our wartime president has decided the only way to win this war is to draft every one of us, hide our battle plans and hope that we are brave enough not to notice that we have already surrendered,” said Oliver. Calling back to the music playing during Trump’s visit to the mask factory, Oliver punctuates that sentiment: “His plan to steer us through this pandemic is for him to live while letting a lot of us die.”