This week, Americans were thrown by the news that Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials and would be cooperating with special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
To make matters worse for the president, on Saturday he tweeted, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
This tweet appeared to be, in its own unique way, an admission of obstruction of justice. As our own Spencer Ackerman wrote, “Whether the president remembered it or not, he has never before stated that Flynn lied to the FBI. Whether the president realized it or not, conceding that he knew about Flynn’s FBI lie—to which Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday—opens Trump up to a world of legal hurt. Trump had asked James Comey, the former director of the FBI, to drop an inquiry into a man Trump now says he knew lied to the bureau.”
Which brings us to Saturday Night Live.
Of late, the late-night sketch-comedy program has struggled with lampooning the endlessly chaotic Trump administration, from Alec Baldwin’s Trump stenography to Kate McKinnon’s head-scratching portrait of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a cutesy Forrest Gump. They haven’t even been able to land any funny shots at Trump’s adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric.
On Saturday, SNL opened with a riff on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with Baldwin’s President Trump avoiding the White House Christmas party by hiding out in the Oval Office. You see, Trump, as he explains, is in “pouty-baby mode” because “this Flynn investigation has really got me down.”
“Sorry, I’m not in the Christmas spirit,” he tells McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway. “The only thing that cheers me up are these hilarious Muslim videos I’ve been retweeting”—a nod to the horrifying anti-Islam propaganda videos the president retweeted from Britain First, a far-right UK nationalist group.
Then, the spirits arrive. First comes Flynn, covered in chains like the ghost of Jacob Marley.
“I’m Michael Flynn, the ghost of witness flipped!” he said. “Mr. President, I came to warn you: it’s time for you to come clean, for the good of the country…this is serious, sir. The FBI got to me. Before all this, I had a great life, Donald. I was an honorable, twice-fired military man who loved to talk about how Hillary Clinton had a child-sex ring in a pizza shop.”
Next comes Billy Bush, Trump’s dimwitted accomplice in his infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” Access Hollywood tape, where the then-reality TV host bragged about his ability to sexually-assault women at will due to his celebrity. You see, of late, President Trump has been claiming to people that the tape isn’t real, despite the fact that in the wake of its release, he issued a 90-second video wherein he acknowledged—and apologized for—his words on the tape, saying, “[I’ve] never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said some things that I regret and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them.”
So naturally Bush, who was fired from NBC for egging Trump on in the tape, tells Trump in the sketch he’s upset that he’s been “saying that tape isn’t even real.” Vladimir Putin follows, complaining about putting “so much time and money” into electing Trump only to see him about to “mess it all up.”
Then, a mysterious figure emerges in a black cloak. The cloak is removed to reveal…McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton, cackling with glee at the recent Flynn news.
“‘Tis I, Hillary Rodham Clinton!” she exclaimed. “You, Donald, have given me the greatest Christmas gift of all: sexual gratification in the form of your slow demise. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to say this: Lock him up!”