The news doesn't sleep, and after almost a month away, HBO's late-night funnyman came back to more material than he could probably hope for. On Sunday night, John Oliver took on the Trump-Cohen tapes on Last Week Tonight, and he didn't have a shortage of analysis following the FBI's seizure of as many as 100 tapes from Trump's former lawyer.
“Wow. Now historically, ‘there are tapes’ hasn’t worked out well for presidents,” Oliver said. “It’s one of those phrases that’s universally foreboding, like ‘the virus is airborne’ and ‘Ronan Farrow is working on an article about you.’”
This past Thursday, CNN reported that Michael Cohen, Trump's former fixer and long-time lawyer, accused the president of knowing and approving of a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between his eldest son Donald Trump, Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, and and a lawyer linked to the Russian government. The lawyer had promised to give compromising information on Trump's presidential rival Hillary Clinton, according to The Daily Beast. Trump has repeatedly denied knowing anything about the meeting before it happened and took to Twitter this past Friday to reaffirm his denial.
“Now THAT is potentially huge — and also somehow completely unsurprising, because deep down, we all assumed that was the case anyway,” said Oliver. “Breaking news: the president actually knew about a meeting that involved his son, his son-in-law and his campaign manager discussing dirt about his greatest enemy that took place where he lived and worked in a building which has his f*cking name on it.”
The meeting allegation is a bombshell. Trump has said that he had no idea the meeting even took place until the news reported on it in July of 2017, according to The Guardian. The president, his son, his lawyers and multiple other officials have continually claimed that no "dirt" on Clinton came out of the meeting. According to CNBC News, Cohen said he was actually in the room when Trump Jr. told his father that there was a meeting scheduled with a Russian attorney who had promised to give dirt on Clinton. Cohen claims that Trump then gave his consent for the meeting to take place, CNBC reported, and that would be willing to work with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in telling his version of what happened.
But the notorious meeting wasn't the only thing Oliver found interesting on the tapes. The host also brought up the portion that seems to show Trump and Cohen discussing a payment to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, which Oliver found particularly interesting because "Trump had previously denied any knowledge of the situation — and also denied the affair itself."
"So this could be a problem for multiple reasons," Oliver joked, "from it being a potential campaign-finance violation to the embarrassment it causes Trump’s wife, although given that she just released a statement that she’s allowed to watch ‘any channel she wants,’ that marriage appears to be rock-solid.”
The tapes are just the latest in a string of blows from Cohen, and as Mueller looks forward to wrapping up his investigation by early fall, it's safe to say that people from both sides of the aisle are eager to see how Cohen will ultimately affect the outcome.