John Oliver: Trump’s Ukraine Scandal ‘Absolutely Meriting of Impeachment’
Following his extensive coverage on the Russia investigation, or “Stupid Watergate,” John Oliver delved into President Trump’s political “sequel,” the Ukraine scandal, on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. The comedian dubbed the political dustup “Stupid Watergate II: The Stupidest Watergate.”
Oliver started off by summarizing the story: On a phone call in late July, Trump asked Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky eight times to investigate former Vice President (and current 2020 presidential candidate) Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden — an alleged effort to influence the upcoming election. “He’s accused of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and then using it as leverage to get dirt on Joe Biden,” Oliver said. “It is very, very dumb.”
The White House initially denied any wrongdoing, even issuing a transcript of the president’s call, which they claimed exonerated him. “Except when you read the account, it emphatically does not do that,” Oliver said. “Because Trump explicitly asks for Biden to be investigated and follows it by saying, ‘I will have [Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani] give you a call … and I am also going to have [Attorney General William Barr] call and we will get to the bottom of it.'”
“It’s frankly impressive just how thorough that abusive power is,” Oliver continued. “He’s looping in both someone so involved in the government they should be nowhere near this kind of petty dirt and someone so involved in petty dirt they should be nowhere near the government.”
The scandal sprung from a bombshell whistle-blower report, which alleged that White House officials attempted to cover their tracks by storing notes for the call on a code-word-level computer system used for classified information. “And why do that if there wasn’t something very bad in there?” Oliver asked.
“To recap here: It seems the president pressured a foreign head of state to investigate his political rival, then his staff tried to cover it up, and perhaps the most shocking part of all this is it might actually hurt him,” the host noted. “And I know that you’re probably thinking right now, ‘No, it won’t, you fucking idiot. Nothing Trump does ever affects him.’ And I do get that. That has clearly been true. Until, maybe, now.”
Oliver pointed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opening an impeachment inquiry against Trump, with some Republicans even expressing concern. But given the president’s numerous previous scandals, the comedian had one burning question: “Why now?”
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“The president’s done so many terrible things — why does this one count?” Oliver asked. “Unlike the Mueller report’s legalistic descriptions of obstruction of justice, Trump pressuring Ukraine to get dirt on his opponent and then hiding the conversation is easy to understand. It’s just gettable. You don’t need to know any more than that to know it’s something presidents should absolutely not be able to do.”
“When you put all of that together,” he continued, “this particular Trump scandal does start to feel a little different — [like] something that is absolutely meriting of impeachment.”
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