The comedian then cut to coverage of Attorney General William Barr’s Trump-friendly Justice Department dropping its case against Michael Flynn.
“A crime cannot be established here,” Barr told CBS News. “They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage… People sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes.”
For the uninitiated, Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, was forced into retirement from the military (his subordinates told The New York Times he had a “loose relationship with facts”). He was a registered foreign agent who’d written glowing op-eds about Recep Tayyip Erdogan after accepting funds from Turkey; was paid to attend and speak at an RT gala dinner in 2015 as a special guest of Vladimir Putin; and was pushed out as national security adviser following reports that he’d misled Vice President Mike Pence (and officials) about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In December 2017, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Flynn pleaded guilty to making “false, fictitious and fraudulent” statements to the FBI concerning those conversations with Kislyak.
Cue Oliver: “Yeah, that’s true—sometimes people do plead to things that turn out not to be crimes, but sometimes they plead to things that are, like, I don’t know, lying to the FBI, which is, in a very real sense, a fucking crime.”
“Especially when you consider that what Flynn was lying about was his contact with a Russian official, and the FBI was in the midst of a Russian counterintelligence investigation,” the HBO host continued. “And all of this is particularly worrying because this was a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, and the whole point of having a special counsel investigate was to keep the process free from conflicts of interest. By dropping these charges, Barr could be setting a dangerous precedent: that a president could not just pardon the subject of an investigation but have his appointees invalidate the investigation itself. It’s a truly unheard-of thing for an attorney general to do.”
With that, Oliver played Barr’s strange response to how history will judge his actions regarding Flynn: “Well, history is written by the winners, so it largely depends on who’s writing the history.”
“Wow,” said Oliver. “Now, if I were the president’s lackey trying to twist the justice system to his will, I might have answered that simple question with something like, ‘History will show this is the right decision’ or ‘It was a tough call but justice was served.’ It takes a special kind of arrogance for the nation’s top law-enforcement official to say, ‘Actually, history’s a lie we tell ourselves as we fall asleep at night, the world is nothing but formless chaos, and there is no truth but that which the strong impose upon the weak. You get it, right?!”