On Sunday night, John Oliver dedicated the main portion of his award-winning HBO program, Last Week Tonight, to Thursday’s release of the 448-page Mueller Report.
“Once the Mueller Report had actually been read,” Oliver told his audience, “it became clear that there was a lot in it.”
One of the central thrusts of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Trump-Russia was how President Trump was investigated for no fewer than 10 possible acts of obstruction of justice, with the report concluding, “If we had confidence… that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”
Oliver called this “a pretty conspicuous non-exoneration… and some of the details in this report were incredible.”
He then threw to a portion of the report wherein, upon finding out that Mueller had been appointed special counsel, Trump reportedly “Slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.’”
“Fucked. He said I’m fucked,” repeated Oliver. “And while we obviously don’t know whether Trump will face any repercussions from this report, I’d just like to live a little longer in the moment of him saying, ‘This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.’”
Since Oliver couldn’t cover everything in the report during his half-hour program, he instead concentrated on “two key factors” that may have allowed the president to dodge prosecution: “incompetence when it comes to conspiracy with Russia, and disobedience when it comes to obstruction.”
The “incompetence” portion starred Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, with Cohen attempting to reach out to Putin’s press spokesman Dmitry Peskov—but emailing the wrong address. And when Dmitry Klokov—communications director for a Russian electricity company who once worked for Russia’s energy minister—reached out to Ivanka Trump, she forwarded the email to Cohen, who thought he was a Russian weightlifter by the same name.
“It wasn’t just Cohen. The report found multiple instances where people tied to the Russian government offered Trump’s campaign assistance and in some instances the campaign was receptive, but the thing that seemed to stop closer coordination from happening was often cartoonish levels of disorganization and incompetence,” explained Oliver.
He added, “When it comes to conspiracy, Trump’s saving grace may have been that, despite Russians wanting to help, everyone around them was too inept to work with them…As for the other major question in Mueller’s report, obstruction of justice, Trump’s saving grace there may have been that, despite ample evidence that he tried to do it, everyone around him was too disobedient to listen.”
Indeed, the Mueller report detailed at least 10 current and former administration officials or associates who refused to carry out Trump’s orders to impede the investigation. “Wow. The news that the president ordered subordinates to do things that might constitute obstruction and they just ignored him is both reassuring and also terrifying,” said Oliver.
According to Oliver, the report’s “most shocking” example of the president being ignored concerned White House Counsel Don McGahn. Trump is said to have repeatedly ordered McGahn to remove Mueller as special counsel, and instead of listening to the president of the United States, McGahn told former chief of staff Reince Priebus that the president had asked him to “do crazy shit” and quit.
“Holy fucking blank! Preparing to quit because you’re being asked to ‘do crazy shit’ isn’t what you’d expect from the White House counsel—it’s what you’d expect from Nicolas Cage’s personal assistant,” joked Oliver.