The media often depicts Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as moderating influences within President Trump's White House – but what evidence do we actually have? John Oliver devoted his main segment on Sunday's Last Week Tonight to answering that question.
The comedian opened by describing how the couple's more level-headed presence in Trump's government comforts many liberal Americans. "Basically, if Trump is thinking about pressing a button labeled 'Nuke Earth,' they will, on behalf of all of us, guide his hand toward the button labeled 'Hey … Maybe Don't,'" he cracked.
But Trump's daughter and son-in-law have accepted surprisingly sizable government roles: Ivanka is now "assistant to the president," and as one of the president's senior advisers, Kushner has been tasked with, among other issues, reforming the criminal justice system, fixing the opioid epidemic and overseeing a revamped federal government.
As Oliver highlighted, Ivanka has publicly supported progressive issues like paid maternity leave and climate change. But since President Trump hasn't adopted any of her liberal views, it's unclear how much influence she really holds. "The assumption that many of us have that she disagrees with him isn't actually based on much," Oliver said.
He then questioned Kushner's qualifications for such a high government position. While many have argued that Kushner is a better influence on Trump than White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Oliver argued that's a "low bar" to clear.
"That recommendation would get you no other job," he said. "We shouldn't be excited about a top White House advisor simply because he is preferable for a man best described as 'Every Dark Thought Humanity as Ever Had Inhabiting the Long-Dead Corpse of a Civil War Era Plantation Owner That Even His Fellow Plantation Owners Called 'A Bit Much.'"
Ultimately, Oliver said, the biggest knock against Ivanka and Kushner isn't their track record – it's their complete lack of one:
"I know that all of this may seem like an evisceration of both Jared and Ivanka, but it is really not," he said. "I don't know enough about them to eviscerate them, just as you don't know enough about them to put any hopes in them. Because it is dangerous to think of them as a moderating influence, as reassuring as that may feel, because believe me – and it gives me no pleasure to say this – if they are the reason you are sleeping at night, you should probably still be awake."
Watch five things we learned from hanging out with John Oliver.