Trump wanted Justice Department to stop SNL from making fun of him, report says

The former president reportedly asked aides whether the DOJ or FCC could punish the sketch comedy show

Nathan Place
New York
Tuesday 22 June 2021 19:15 BST
Alec Baldwin mocks Donald Trump's tweeting
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It’s no secret that Donald Trump hated Alec Baldwin’s orange-skinned, slack-jawed portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live. But a new report says he actually tried to use the powers of the presidency to stop it.

According to The Daily Beast, in 2019 Mr Trump asked White House aides and lawyers whether the Department of Justice or the Federal Communications Commission could investigate SNL, along with other late-night shows that ridiculed him. The shows, his advisers explained, were all clearly satirical, which meant they were protected as free speech under the First Amendment.

“It was more annoying than alarming, to be honest with you,” an unnamed source with knowledge of the conversations told the Beast.

Mr Trump also publicly telegraphed his intentions.

“It’s truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of ‘the other side,’” the former president tweeted at the time. “Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this? There must be Collusion with the Democrats and, of course, Russia!”

According to the Beast’s report, Mr Trump also singled out late-night comedy host Jimmy Kimmel for daring to make fun of him. But as aides repeatedly told him, neither SNL nor Jimmy Kimmel Live! could be punished for satirising the president.

One person in Mr Trump’s orbit, who spoke anonymously to the Beast, said they informed him that the Justice Department wasn’t even the right agency to investigate something like this.

“Can something else be done about it?” a disappointed Mr Trump allegedly replied.

The source says they told him they’d look into it, and then never did. According to the Beast, no investigations of the programmes were ever launched.

This was not the only time Mr Trump tried to use the Justice Department as his personal law firm. Newly released emails have revealed that after his 2020 election loss, the former president repeatedly pressured the department to overturn the results by investigating outlandish voter fraud theories.

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