John Oliver on impeachment: 'The case for inaction is starting to get weak'

The Last Week Tonight host made a case for impeaching Trump in the name of equality and fairness under the law

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver discussed the growing calls for impeachment and what it might actually mean for Donald Trump and Democrats.

“Ever since this president was elected, some people have been dying to see him impeached, sometimes literally,” Oliver opened, showing an Inside Edition clip where two old men passed away only after their families told them impeachment had begun.

“But the question of impeachment hasn’t just been employed as effective hospice care.” In fact, 63 House Democrats believe an impeachment inquiry should start. But the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is not behind the idea, as she believes the country doesn’t understand the process and does not support Trump’s impeachment. She explained her reasoning by referencing Bye Bye Birdie. But Oliver argued against the choice of musical: “If this situation were to be a musical, it wouldn’t be Bye Bye Birdie. It would obviously be Grease, where a rapey guy with weird hair treats women like shit and and yet somehow gets everything he’s ever wanted.”

No president has been removed from office by impeachment, though two presidents have been impeached. The first step in the process is an impeachment inquiry. Then a House majority must vote to impeach, which then moves it to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority must vote to remove. The constitution says there are three grounds for impeachment: treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors.

Trump could be impeached for obstruction of justice. There is precedent, as these crimes were cited in the articles against former presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. The special counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailed 11 instances where Trump or his campaign engaged in potential obstruction of justice. The most newsworthy occasion involved Don McGahn, the former White House counsel. “You might remember him as well as the understudy for Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. He was ready to jump in if Kavanaugh ever cried himself into an early nap,” joked Oliver.

McGahn threatened to resign after Trump asked him to do “crazy shit”, as in tell the then deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to fire Mueller. Trump apparently told McGahn: “Mueller has to go,” “Call me back when you do it” and called him later to ask: “Have you done it?” When news got out about Trump’s thwarted firing, he tried to get McGahn to release a statement denying he had tried to get Mueller fired. “To recap there, it seems the president obstructed justice. Then obstructed justice again to try to obstruct the investigation into his obstruction of justice,” Oliver summarized.

Despite growing calls and evidence against him, Trump has said he wouldn’t leave. Oliver agreed with this, telling his audience: “Yeah, of course Trump wouldn’t leave. You think he’d hold a press conference and bashfully say into a camera: ‘I was wrong?’ In what reality would that happen? Then he’d gracefully say: ‘I would now let someone else be the president’? You’re insane! Then what? He’d pack a suitcase and walk, physically walk out of the White House and just not be the president any more? No! He’d make us drag him out like an uncooperative toddler. You know this!”

Oliver then used Trump’s ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos to demonstrate how the president already believes he has gotten away with it, telling Stephanopoulos he would listen to information from foreign countries pertaining to opponents, probably not call the FBI, and said the FBI director was wrong to say that he should. “It is genuinely fascinating to watch Trump project his own immoral awfulness on to the rest of humanity.” Oliver continued: “He’s basically saying laws are a matter of opinion and you can trust your Uncle Don on this one. But of course, that is not true.” The head of the Federal Election Commission had to release a statement to the contrary, reiterating its illegal nature.

“I know it’s easy to be defeatist here because nothing has seemingly reined Trump in so far, but I will say this: every asshole succeeds until, finally, they don’t.” He closed out the segment: “If nothing else, we would be standing by the basic, fundamental principle, that nobody is above the law. And in doing so, it would mean that when people tell dying relatives that we’re doing everything we can to hold this president accountable, at least this time, it would actually be true.”


Dream McClinton

The GuardianTramp

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