Politics

John Oliver says Trump is ‘using his own incompetence as a defense’

Last week was a busy one for political news, as special prosecutor Robert Mueller on Monday revealed charges against three former Trump campaign officials.

That meant John Oliver had quite the fodder for his Sunday show, “Last Week Tonight” on HBO, as he poked fun at President Trump before taking a somewhat serious turn, pleading with his viewers not to let Trump get away with brushing the cases off.

First, Oliver tried to hold Trump’s feet to the fire when it comes to him and his administration brushing off George Papadopoulos, a former adviser who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian nationals.

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Oliver pointed out that Trump had posted a photo to Instagram during his campaign of a national security meeting, which featured Papadopoulos among those sitting around a conference room table.

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Oliver noted that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the photo, saying that Trump takes “thousands of photographs with millions of people,” and that when Trump was asked about the photo, he responded, “I don’t remember much about that meeting.”

“Oh, you don’t remember? That is convenient. Although, it’s slightly undercut by one of Trump’s favorite boasts,” Oliver quipped, before playing a clip of montage Trump telling reporters and those at campaign rallies that he has “a great memory.”

“There is just no way to reconcile those two positions — although, Trump has actually tried in the past,” Oliver said. “When he was asked during a deposition in 2015 about claiming that he had one of the world’s great memories, he said, and I quote, ‘I don’t remember saying that. As good as my memory is, I don’t remember that. But I have a good memory.’ ”

After the audience’s laughter died down, Oliver’s tone turned a bit more serious.

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“So right now, there are three people from the Trump campaign facing serious charges about their entanglements overseas, and in all three cases, Trump’s pushback has basically been, ‘I don’t know anything about the people I should have known those things about.’ ”

Oliver then accused the president of playing the “Trump card”: “He’s using his own incompetence as a defense,” he said.

“The worrying thing here is it may work for Trump,” Oliver continued. “Think about what the counter-argument may have to be: This is a meticulous man who made strategic decisions fully aware of the consequences of his actions. That could be a tough case to make. But we cannot accept the ‘Trump card’ as his defense here.”

If we did, Oliver said, “we’d be saying, ‘Look, this guy is too dumb to really understand what he’s doing, so I guess we have no choice but to let him keep being president.’ Please, let’s not do that.”

In addition to Papadopoulos’s guilty plea, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements, and other charges.