John Oliver was excited to show off his brand new glass desk on Last Week Tonight before he went on to put the Trump administration on blast for its handling of the protests in Portland that have been happening for the past two months since George Floyd’s death.
The protests in Portland have prompted the deployment of federal agents. As a result, there has been video footage of camouflaged agents arresting protestors and putting them in unmarked cars. One news report shows a Navy veteran who was beaten and pepper-sprayed by agents after he attempted to have a civil conversation with them.
“That is intense and frankly, says so much about this country right now,” said Oliver. “CNN will show federal agents treating a human being like a pinata and censor the same man for rightfully telling those agents to f*ck the f*ck off.”
Oliver points out that the deployment of federal agents is a “sharp escalation of questionable legality” — something that isn’t new for the Trump administration. In a news clip, Donald Trump is seen saying that they are doing a “great job” in Portland when it comes to the protests and that “many people are in jail right now.”
“It’s never good when Trump says he’s doing a ‘great job’ given he thinks that the administration is doing a ‘great job’ dealing with the coronavirus and he once proclaimed Ben Affleck would do a great job as Batman,” Oliver quipped. “Clearly, this man has no sense of what a ‘great job’ actually looks like.”
It turns out that Oregon Governor Kate Brown did not want the federal agents there and said that they should be removed from the streets. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the same thing during a news interview blatantly saying, “We want them to leave.”
Oliver points out the obvious, saying, “Masked individuals throwing people into unmarked vans is never a good idea if you want to deescalate a situation.” He adds that the protests have been mostly peaceful but there have been isolated incidents where local police have overreacted, which earned Wheeler the nickname “Tear Gas Teddy.”
There have been rioters and defacers during these protests, but as seen in a news clip, the protests have been contained to one city block. In fact, there were fewer confrontations between protesters and police before federal agents were called in.
However, Fox News has been reporting it as “left-wing violence.” During one report, Sean Hannity listed all the violence happening in Portland when most of it was graffiti. Oliver points out that the violence is an overstatement and Hannity’s “tone does not reflect conditions on the ground.”
Oliver stated, “The troubling thing here is Portland seems to be being used as a staging ground by the president to put on an authoritarian show of force — and this could end very badly especially as he has now threatened to use fed force in other cities as well which is absolutely outrageous.”
He added, “If you, like Trump, think that it is fun to use federal troops as a prop to crush the constitutional right to assemble then like a great American, I’d like to offer you a basic cognitive test.” He then held up two middle fingers, “How many fingers am I holding up?”