During the opening segment of the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver critiqued the Trump administration's responses to its alleged Russia connections. In typical Oliver fashion, the sharp piece was simultaneously amusing and concerning.
Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump and his associates have been dogged with criticism for a too cozy relationship with Russia and specifically Vladimir Putin. Those critiques have only gotten louder as an increasing number of reports put for evidence that some of Trump's cabinet members were not, allegedly, always truthful about their exchanges with Russian officials.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been the most recent member of Trump's team to be under fire over contact with Russia. The Washington Post reported that Sessions had failed to disclose he met with the Russian ambassador to the United States twice, even though he said during his confirmation hearing, "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians." The report led to Sessions recusing himself from Department of Justice investigations into the Trump campaign's contact with Russia.
Oliver started out his segment by focusing on Sessions, saying that while there is nothing illegal about meeting with Russian officials, seemingly not telling the truth about having done so, particularly under oath, is alarming. Oliver further took Sessions to task for "implicating himself out of the blue" during his Attorney General confirmation hearings, when Sessions asserted that he had never met with Russian officials, even though he was never asked whether he had. Oliver characterized Sessions' assertion at the hearing as "immediately suspicious."
In addition to Sessions, Oliver criticized the behavior of several others in the Trump administration, including J.D. Gordan, Carter Page, and Jared Kushner, all of whom met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at some point last year. Again, while stressing that there is nothing inherently wrong with meeting with the Russian ambassador, Oliver took issue with the notion that seemingly, "every time Trump associates are asked about Russia, they respond like they're trying to hide something."
Oliver used several clips to illustrate his point. The first clip featured Page, a former Trump policy adviser, who awkwardly said in response to a question asking whether he'd met Kislyak, "I'm not gonna deny that I talked with him. I will say I've never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland, let's just say that much... I may have met him, possibly, what might have been in Cleveland."
Oliver mercilessly mocked Page's seemingly very evasive answer, suggesting that Page makes Cleveland sound like a concept ripe for metaphysical investigation rather than a very real city in which a meeting could have occurred. In his critique of Page's response, Oliver amusingly asserted, "When you think about it, Cleveland is more of a state of mind than a physical place."
Oliver then shared anther clip of what he deemed a "suspicious response'" to questions about the Trump administration's alleged ties to Russia. In the clip, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered an apparently very unassured response to a question asking whether Trump had any financial relationships to Russian oligarchs, seemingly mumbling and trailing into, "That's what he [Trump] said...that's what I...that's obviously what my position is."
Oliver was aghast at the Manfort clip and indicated that he thought the former campaign manager's response to the question was "...so unconvincing it probably set off an unplugged polygraph machine just sitting in a closet somewhere." Manafort was fired from the Trump campaign shortly after his own professional ties to Russian politics were reported.
Oliver concluded his segment on the alleged Trump-Russia connections by referring to the subject as "stupid watergat." As Oliver said, it is "a potential scandal with all of the intrigue of watergate except everyone involved is really bad at everything."