John Oliver (HBO)

John Oliver calls out Donald Trump's "galling lie" about Don Jr.

Oliver thinks the president is so worried about the investigation that he's making stuff up about his son


Rachel Leah
August 6, 2018 1:12PM (UTC)

John Oliver began his late-night show "Last Week Tonight" on HBO by providing an update on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Donald Trump campaign and possible collusion with Russia. It's a presidential campaign scandal that Oliver likes to call "Stupid Watergate."

"With investigators seemingly closing in on multiple fronts, the president this week was apparently worried," he told viewers Sunday night.

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Oliver referenced a Washington Post report published over the weekend, titled "Trump at a precarious moment in his presidency: Privately brooding and publicly roaring," which states:

Trump’s indignation with the Mueller investigation has long been evident, but it is boiling over with growing ferocity. He has tweeted the phrase 'witch hunt' a combined 46 times in June and July, up from 29 times in April and May, and more and more he is calling out Mueller by name.

However, the most revelatory part came more buried in the article and referred to Trump's anxieties about his son, Don Jr. "Trump has confided to friends and advisers that he is worried the Mueller probe could destroy the lives of what he calls 'innocent and decent people' — namely Trump Jr., who is under scrutiny by Mueller for his role organizing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton," the Post reported. "As one adviser described the president’s thinking, he does not believe his son purposefully broke the law, but is fearful nonetheless that Trump Jr. inadvertently may have wandered into legal ­jeopardy."

READ MORE: Right-wing talk show host Joe Walsh tells Salon: Donald Trump "betrayed his country"

Oliver had no trouble believing the plausibility of such a theory. "On the long list of things Don Jr. is likely to wander into, legal jeopardy is right up there with the women's dressing room and a screen door," the comedian joked.

Oliver then turned to the president, who fired off another rambling, defensive, provocative tweet Sunday morning, this time responding to the Post article. He wrote: "Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!"

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"There is so much wrong there!" Oliver insisted, "from the fact it undermines the excuse he supposedly dictated — that this meeting was about Russian adoptions — to claiming he didn't know about it, and if it did, nothing happened."

But the late-night host wasn't finished. The most "galling lie" in the tweet, Oliver claimed, is Trump's description of Don Jr. as a "wonderful son." "I mean that is just flagrantly false. He's barely even the most wonderful Donald Trump," he added.

Oliver suggested that the president has been following and also is likely worried about the ongoing trial of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Oliver describes him as a man "who could be convicted of every single crime on earth and still not be as guilty as he looks."

Manafort's trial has certainly prompted the president to tweet, as well.

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Oliver tried to surmise the argument there. "So broadly," he said, "Paul Manafort is less of a criminal than America's most famous criminal? Which is surely the most daring legal strategy since Johnnie Cochran's quickly abandoned 'Oh, relax, it's not like he's Hitler!' defense. 'If he's not Hitler, you must acquit-ler.'"

Devin Nunes may have proof of the Trump-Russia smoking gun

When House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California seemed to try to create a fake scandal about former national security adviser Susan Rice, he most likely did so to distract from the investigation into the Donald Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia.

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Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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