“Do you remember normal weeks? Because I don’t. I don’t remember what they felt like.”
That’s how John Oliver opened the latest edition of his Emmy-winning HBO program Last Week Tonight, and he has a valid point. This past week saw President Donald Trump fire FBI Director James Comey, the very man leading an investigation into Trump-Russia collusion during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Then, both he and his minions spent several days obfuscating and outright lying about how and why Comey was fired.
Trump made the “startling decision” (Oliver’s words) to fire Comey by letter, though Comey reportedly found out by watching TV, initially believing it to be a particularly cruel prank. In Trump’s termination letter to Comey, the commander in chief claimed that he was firing Comey at the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who’d only been in the position for about two weeks, and included the following bizarre passage:
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” wrote Trump.
Cue Oliver: “OK. It is just inherently suspicious to try and put words in Comey’s mouth as you kick him out the door. That is the equivalent of a breakup text reading: ‘While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I was the most enthusiastic, dexterous, and intuitive lover you ever had, I nevertheless must terminate your position as my girlfriend. Eggplant emoji.’”
In addition to laying the blame on his deputy AG’s shoulders, the Trump administration initially alleged that they chose to dismiss Comey over his handling of the Hillary Clinton private email server case during the election—even though Trump repeatedly praised Comey’s handling of the Clinton imbroglio both during and after the election, and regularly lead “Lock her up!” chants at his rallies. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, Trump’s army of surrogates, including deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, made the incredibly bold (and far-fetched) claim that Comey had lost the confidence of the bureau, a point that’s been contested by virtually everyone in the intelligence community, including Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
To quote the great Phil Collins, “It’s all been a pack of lies,” and Trump confessed as much during an interview Thursday with NBC News’ Lester Holt, saying it was his decision to fire Comey, and that he did so because he thought that “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” Numerous reports also stated that Comey had requested more resources to investigate Trump-Russia ties prior to being fired, and that the Trump administration was unhappy that the investigation was being accelerated instead of petering out.
“What are you doing? ‘I was thinking of the Russia investigation when I fired Comey’ is the one thing that you are not supposed to say out loud!” exclaimed Oliver. “It’s the kind of response that makes you ask three questions: 1) Can he really be this stupid?, 2) Does he really think we, as a country, are this stupid?, and 3) Are we, as a country, this stupid? And it’s entirely possible the answer to all three questions are ‘yes.’”
Trump also told Holt that he reached the decision to fire Comey during a dinner the two shared just after his inauguration—that is, on or around Jan. 27—wherein, according to POTUS, Comey allegedly told the president that he was not under investigation. Comey’s “far more plausible” version of the Trump-Comey dinner later leaked to the press, wherein it was reported that Trump repeatedly asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to Trump, with Comey refusing and instead offering honesty.
Then, the president fired off this strange, ominous tweet:
“At this point, President Trump has made it very clear: He fired the director of the FBI at least partially due to unhappiness with the bureau’s investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, which is both shocking and yet completely unsurprising. There is really nothing Trump could do to genuinely shock me right now,” said Oliver.
“It is too easy to point at Trump being crazy—that’s what he does, it’s not going to stop, and it’s going to be exhausting for everyone,” Oliver continued, before addressing the Republicans in Congress. “It is time for each and every one of them to pick a lane here. They do have options: Obviously, there are the investigations that are currently ongoing, but they could also press Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel within the Justice Department, but at the very, very least here, they need to acknowledge that what has happened is fucked up and not continue to give non-answers.”
“The Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances to limit the power of the President, but it only works if someone fucking checks or balances, and if you don’t, it’s no longer on Trump. It’s on you.”