Late Friday night, President Trump announced that the U.S. was conducting retaliatory air strikes against Syrian military interests. “A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is underway,” the president said.
The missile attacks come a week after a suspected sarin gas attack that killed at least 42 Syrian civilians in Ghouta, the last rebel-held town, and left hundreds of others with “symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent,” according to the Syrian American Medical Society. As The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman reported, Trump’s air strikes against Syria are technically illegal, as they have not been authorized by Congress.
Bill Maher, whose late-night HBO show Real Time airs live, took the stage just a half-hour or so after Trump’s Syria announcement, and did an impressive job with very little prep time.
“Well look, I hate to disappoint you, but not much happened this week,” joked Maher at the top of his opening monologue. “The offices of Trump’s personal lawyer were raided; he had a meltdown over Jim Comey’s book; the Homeland Security adviser quit; the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, out; and we’re attacking Russia in Syria as we speak right now, so things are really quieting down.”
He continued: “It looked like Trump was backing off his threat to attack Syria, but apparently he got the go-ahead from Fox & Friends today…I don’t want to say this raid is meant to distract from his other problems, but it’s called Operation Desert Stormy.”
The comedian added that “we knew [Trump] was getting serious about Syria because he gave Assad a nickname this week”—the nickname being “Gas Killing Animal”—before concluding that “This is The Art of War by Captain Underpants.”
Later on during the panel portion, Maher suggested that Trump might be launching airstrikes on Syria to distract from allegations of Russian collusion.
“What I can’t imagine is Obama colluding with Russia, or what I think this guy might be doing: I don’t put it past him to start a war and mix it up with Russia just to make people think, oh, I guess there is no collusion,” offered Maher. “I don’t put anything past this guy.”