John Oliver brands Trump Ukraine scandal ‘the Stupidest Watergate’

Late night host takes aim at the US president amid intensifying impeachment inquiry 

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 30 September 2019 06:57 BST
John Oliver asks 'what the f**k is going on?'

John Oliver has weighed in after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry against US president Donald Trump.

The Last Week Tonight presenter spent the first 10 minutes of his HBO on Sunday 29 September going over the probe, which is focused on investigating whether Trump sought to undermine Democratic rival Joe Biden and support his own re-election with help from a foreign government.

The impeachment inquiry was sparked after an unnamed intelligence official sounded the alarm on Trump’s activities relating to Ukraine. During a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy that took place this summer, Trump is said to have asked for help investigating former vice president Biden and his son, Hunter, a total of eight times.

“Wow, eight times,” Oliver said. “The only time it makes sense to ask for the same thing eight times in a single phone call is if you’re trying to connect with a customer service agent from AT&T. Boom! I got you, Business Daddy! I got you! You genuinely bad company.” His joke was in reference to HBO’s parent company, which has become the subject of frequent swipes on the show.

In the days before the call, Trump ordered advisers to freeze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, which prompted concern that he was holding the money as leverage for information on the Bidens. Trump has denied the accusation but acknowledged he blocked the funds, which were later released.

Oliver commented: “We called his Russia scandal ‘Stupid Watergate‘, which unfortunately means we now have to work out what the sequence should be called... ‘Stupid Watergate II: Look Who’s Stupid Now (The Same Guy)’... ‘S2pid Watergate’... ‘Stwopid Watergate’.” Oliver eventually decided he preferred: “Stupid Watergate II: The Stupidest Watergate.”

He then observed how the White House initially denied any wrongdoing and released its own account of the phone call with Ukraine, which did not exonerate Trump. He also referred to the whistleblower’s allegation that the White House had tried to cover up the call.

“The notes from the call were stored in a separate code-word level system for highly classified information, despite the fact that there was no legitimate reason to do that... and why do that, if there wasn’t something very bad in there?” he asked. “If you don’t want someone to see something on your computer, everyone knows you put it in a folder labelled ‘finance records’.”

He went on comment on how, while some may believe that “nothing Trump does ever affects him”, “people seem legitimately furious over this”. His final observation on the Ukraine segment of the show was that, while the Russia scandal involved allegations by Trump towards another presidential candidate, “this involves him abusing the powers of the presidency”.

Other late-night TV spots have taken aim at Trmup and the threat of an impeachment inquiry. In Saturday Night Live’s cold open, Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump asked for impeachment advice from celebrities including Kanye West (Chris Redd), Judge Jeanine Pirro (Cecily Strong), and fictional fixer Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber).

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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