John Oliver took the scandal surrounding President Trump's firing of James Comey head on. He started off Last Week Tonight focusing on the issue, drawing attention to the ever-changing story that made the week one of the tensest thus far in Trump's presidency. But, of course, it didn't end there as Trump seemed to have threatened Comey via Twitter. So, on Sunday, Oliver summed up Trump's threatening tweet to Comey as only he could.
"James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" Trump posted last week, after sharing his version of his conversations with Comey in an NBC interview with Lester Holt. Trump made it sound like a harmless conversation in which the then-FBI director ensured he wasn't under investigation. People close to Comey quickly contradicted the story, saying that Trump had actually asked for loyalty (which Trump denied).
Oliver gave his own summary of the back-and-forth that could have occurred between Comey and Trump and expressed that it's nearly impossible for Trump to surprise him at this point.
"Tweets like that are actually really difficult to parse because they are somehow both a borderline obstruction of justice and the meaningless rantings of a confused, old idiot," Oliver said.
This was part of a longer segment in which Oliver expressed incredulity about Trump's taking credit for the whole firing. "What are you doing? ‘I was thinking of the Russia investigation when I fired Comey’ is the one thing that you are not supposed to say out loud!” Oliver pointed out, explaining that it led him to ask three questions:
"One, can he really be this stupid? Two, does he really think we as a country are this stupid? And three, are we as a country this stupid? And it’s entirely possible the answer to all three questions are ‘yes.’"
Unfortunately Oliver may be right — but there's the chance that Trump could still be held accountable for these actions.
He argued that it's easy to just write Trump off as crazy, but that the rest of us, especially Congress, need to step up and start putting limits on the abuse of power that could soon come to seem normal. One way to do this would be to successfully carry out the Russia investigations in Congress, as well as push Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor.
Oliver then made it extremely clear what this all means. "The point is, the founding fathers created a system of checks and balances to limit the power of the president, but it only works if someone f--king checks and balances — and if you don’t, it’s no longer on Trump; it’s on you," he said.
That can serve as a necessary reminder to the rest of Washington, and viewers at home, that now is not the time to be complacent. Because when meaningless obstruction of justice rants become commonplace and no one reacts to the new normal, society is already in trouble.