John Oliver typically starts his HBO show with a “quick recap of the week.” But the Last Week Tonight host spent longer than usual on Sunday digging into the man President Donald Trump has chosen to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
After running down some highlights from the midterm elections, Oliver explained that on Wednesday Trump “did the thing that we’ve all kind of been bracing for,” finally firing Sessions and appointing Matt Whitaker to be his acting replacement. “And everything about that appointment is weird,” Oliver said, noting that instead of promoting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein he decided to “shove white Shrek into the job.”
“And that is troubling for any number of reasons,” he continued, “from the fact that he’s been a regular critic of the Mueller investigation to his questionable judicial philosophy.” But the “most eye-catching” thing in Whitaker’s background, Oliver said, was the patent company that he served on the advisory board for and is now under investigation by the FBI for allegedly defrauding its clients. “World Patent Marketing was a scam,” he declared.
Oliver proceeded to demonstrate the value of one of the company’s patents, Supreme Diva Jeans, which are essentially padded pants intended to make women’s butts look bigger. “We actually tracked that inventor down, and I’m here to tell you, these things really work,” the host said, rising from his desk and turning his back to the camera.
While there is “a lot that is completely disqualifying” about Whitaker, Oliver said the “biggest red flag” is that there is still a photo of him lifting a giant barbell at the top of his Twitter profile. “First, I’ve got to say, from one lifter to another: Respect,” he joked.
On a more serious note, Oliver said, “It should be pretty clear what is actually happening here. Trump wants a toady who will restrain Mueller and Whitaker appears to be that guy.” He also marveled at Trump’s attempts to “distance himself” from Whitaker despite reportedly meeting with him several times in the Oval Office and literally saying, “I know Matt Whitaker” on Fox & Friends last month.
“But by Friday morning, Trump was already desperately backpedaling,” he said of the president’s insistence to reporters that he does not know Matt Whitaker. “OK, so that is just clearly bullshit. Unless Trump simply forgot the man he appointed as acting attorney general is named Matt Whitaker, which actually might be plausible. After all, he does look more like his name would be Dork Blunderbuss or Chunk Smushington.”
“We’ve known for more than a year now that Trump wants to replace Sessions with someone who will restrain Mueller. And this week, he did it,” Oliver added. “So the only real remaining question is, how will we respond? Will Congress take steps to keep Mueller safe? I would hope so, because it’s pretty clear by now that Trump will go exactly as far as they will allow him to go.”