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John Oliver Reminds Fox News That Mueller Report ‘Does Not Exonerate’ Trump

‘Last Week Tonight’ host says president’s supporters are taking “one piece of good news” from Mueller’s findings “and [rounding] it up to two”

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver examined the fallout of Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report — or, at least, the four-page summary that Attorney General William Barr submitted to Congress the previous Sunday. While Mueller did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign — a finding Oliver called “undeniably good news for the president” — the special counsel also did not exonerate the president on an obstruction of justice charge. “[It’s] pretty remarkable,” the comedian said, noting that, in ordinary times, that kind of finding “might prompt headlines like, ‘President May Have Obstructed Justice.'”

Oliver argued that both conservative news outlets and Trump supporters were premature in chalking up the Mueller report as vindication for the president — taking “one piece of good news and [rounding] it up to two.” “The O.J. Simpson murders were not reported as ‘Affordable House Becomes Available in Brentwood,'” the host cracked. “There’s something pretty big missing from that headline.”

“Trump was not completely exonerated,” Oliver said, reacting to Fox News reports touting the opposite. “In fact, the report literally says it ‘does not exonerate him.’ The only way Mueller could have been clearer on that point is if he put hand-clap emojis between every word.”

Oliver said the show would normally plunge into a “deep-dive” into the finished investigation, but there’s one problem. “We still haven’t seen it,” he said of the full report, a redacted version of which is expected to be released by mid-April. “Congress hasn’t seen it. Even the president hasn’t seen it. We only know what Trump’s own Attorney General thinks we need to know — a man who, unsolicited and before he got his current job, sent top DOJ officials a memo ruling out obstruction of justice charges against the president, so there are plenty of qualifiers and questions left here.”

While some have criticized the investigation for its longevity and cost, Oliver noted that “the DOJ could well take in more than it’s spent on the investigation just in the form of asset forfeitures from Paul Manafort alone.” And he argued that, even if the investigation didn’t result in an obstruction charge, “that doesn’t mean the whole thing was a waste of time.”

“It’s easy to forget just how much we’ve already learned, directly or indirectly, from Mueller’s investigation, as so much has slowly trickled out over two years,” he said. “But just for a moment, try and imagine that it all came out at once there was a single headline that said, ‘Russia Confirmed to Have Interfered in Election; And President’s Campaign Manager, Lawyer, Multiple Advisers Convicted of Crimes; and Trump and His Team Lied About Business With Russia, Contact With Russians; and Trump May Have Committed Campaign Finance Violations to Cover Up Affair With Adult Film Star Shortly After His Wife Gave Birth, and Which He Also Attempted to Continue But Ended Up Sitting Next to the Adult Film Star in a Hotel Room and Watching ‘Shark Week.’

“All of that happened, and we know it in one way or another as a result of Mueller’s investigation,” Oliver continued. “So this scandal has been sitting in plain sight for so long, we’ve stopped noticing it … The weirdest thing about this situation is how somehow not weird this objectively ridiculous state of affairs is starting to feel.”

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