Has it really only been four days since that anonymous New York Times op-ed hit the internet?
In that time, the words of an unnamed “senior official” have nearly torn apart the Trump administration, whose members are tripping over each other to deny that they are the author. The president himself has called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation despite the lack of any apparent criminal activity.
John Oliver opened his show Sunday night with the op-ed and the president’s all-caps, one-word response: “TREASON?” The Last Week Tonight host then mocked Trump’s utter inability to pronounce the word “anonymous” at a recent rally. “You know, I don’t like Trump’s policies, ideas, or demeanor,” Oliver said, “but I do like how he occasionally sounds like a Teddy Ruxpin someone fished out of a lake.”
While Trump is reportedly “obsessed” with finding out who wrote the op-ed, the problem is that it could be “almost anybody” in his administration given the revelations that also emerged this week via Bob Woodward’s new book Fear: Trump in the White House.
Among the most damning quotes is one from John Kelly, who called his role as Trump’s chief of staff the “worst job” he’s ever had. “I am absolutely sure that Kelly loves his job,” Oliver said of the general’s denial. “He seems so happy whenever you see him.”
But Oliver zeroed in on one anecdote from the book that has received less attention in the few days since members of the press have gotten their hands on advance copies. The “incredible” claim concerns Trump’s now-former lawyer John Dowd, who went directly to Robert Mueller and told him why he didn’t want the president to sit for questioning in the Russia probe.
“I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot,” Dowd reportedly said. “And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell.’”
“That is the president’s own lawyer telling a prosecutor—a prosecutor!—that his client would be so stupid under questioning it would be a genuine national security concern,” Oliver marveled. He particularly loved the phrase “goddamn dumbbell.”
“It’s so much more delightful than ‘idiot’ or ‘dipshit’ or ‘fucking moron,’” the host continued. “‘Dumbbell’ just puts a fun cartoon image in your head. Anyway, the president’s a disaster and we’re all going to die.”