John Oliver cut through all the hype about Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia report and put his finger on the central theme that coursed through almost every chapter–the stupidity, duplicity and disobedience of Donald Trump and his White House cronies.
Trump has often been portrayed as a mob boss, but his crew was clearly the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. And, lucky for him.
The only thing standing between Trump and a definitive obstruction of justice charge by the Special Counsel was his own incompetence, the stupidity of those around him, and the willful disobedience of key staff members.
Oliver started his deconstruction with Trump’s very unpresidential declaration. After learning Mueller had been appointed to investigate Russia’s cyber attack on the 2016 presidential election, Trump had a few choice words.
“Some of the details in this report were incredible,” Oliver warned, cutting to a news clip.
“When Trump learned that Special Counsel Mueller was appointed, he slumped back in his chair, and said, ‘Oh my God; this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I am fucked.”
Things went downhill from there. The quote, incidentally, was written verbatim in notes taken by White House Counsel Don McGann.
Later, Trump fumed on Twitter that real lawyers don’t take notes. He was referring to his former lawyer, the late Roy Cohn, who ended up being disbarred.
You may recall, Trump won the election by less than 80,000 votes across three key Electoral College states. Yet he lost to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 3 million popular votes.
Throughout the campaign, Mueller found, Russian operatives continually contacted the Trump campaign offering assistance.
But Trump associates like son Don Jr. and Michael Cohen, his long-time lawyer and reputed fixer were too dumb to figure it out.
Cohen dropped the ball more than once. Cohen was in contact with Russians throughout the campaign, mostly trying to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow, “which, in and of itself is wildly inappropriate,” Oliver said. “It is clearly compromising.”
At one point, Cohen reached out to Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitri Peskova, but failed to connect because he typed in the wrong email address.
In another instance, the wife of a Russian operative reached out to Ivanka Trump. She passed the information to Cohen who confused the operative with a Russian Olympic weightlifter by the same name. And, blew it off.
Another key example was the infamous Trump Tower meeting.
A Russian lawyer, Don Jr., Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner discussed obtaining dirt on Clinton directly from the Kremlin.
But Mueller’s team concluded that it would “unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the… meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful.”
Forget the fact that Donald Trump tried to cover up the meeting’s true meaning. You may recall, Trump concocting a false statement claiming the session was about adoptions. But that’s on Mueller.
“When it comes to conspiracy, Trump’s saving grace may have been that, despite Russians wanting to help, everyone around him was too inept to work with them,” Oliver declared.
Oliver noted that Donald Trump gave a series of disturbing directives to various White House staffers that would have clearly constituted obstruction–if they had carried them out.
But every one of them–10 former and current administration officials in all–was disobedient.
“Wow, the news that the president ordered subordinates that might constitute obstruction and they just ignored him is both reassuring and also terrifying,” the comedian said.
Terrifying because most of those who stopgapped the president have since left the White House leaving behind a coterie of sycophants like Attorney General William Barr.
You should see what Oliver had to say about him. “Crazy shit!”
Check out the video below.