John Oliver trashes Republican talking points defending Trump's Ukraine dealings

On Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the host directed his ire towards Republican attempts to defend President Donald Trump amid the impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine ahead of the second week of public testimonies.

Since the whistleblower complaint became public in September, the most parroted defense is that the allegations against Trump are all hearsay, meaning the people testifying didn’t have first-hand knowledge. But that all changed since two people have now testified who were listening in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. On top of that, Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, has also testified, and he was personally involved. Oliver agreed there’s hearsay, but not quite in the same way as those defending the president.

“The point with the whole hearsay argument, though, is that multiple people have gone on record saying the president was pressuring Zelensky for his own political gain,” Oliver said. “Including his own Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who did so on camera. So yes, the fact that there was a quid pro quo is all hearsay in that you hear people say it all the f***ing time.”

Others are defending Trump by attacking the inquiry as being boring, and in some cases, “not sexy.” This was especially prevalent on Fox News following the first day of public testimony. 

Fox Business host Stuart Varney said, “It was unutterably boring, wasn’t it? And did you watch any of this stuff? I mean, with Richard Nixon there was a break-in. With Bill Clinton there was sex in the Oval Office. With Trump, it’s a phone call to Ukraine. What the devil is that all about?”

“I’m so sorry this gigantic abuse of power isn’t sexy enough for you, Stuart,” Oliver responded. “Although I will say, if robbery and sex are what you want, the Russia scandal had hacked emails, and Trump did pay $130,000 to a porn star. Do either of those scandals turn your crank, Stu?”

Then there are those who say Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were inappropriate but not impeachable, something neither Trump nor Oliver agree with. Trump, because he’s said many times that his call with Zelensky was “perfect.” Oliver, because, as he pointed out, presidents are supposed to conduct American foreign policy in a way that benefits the country, not themselves.

And finally, Oliver responded to an argument made by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, who argued last week that while bribery is in the Constitution, attempted bribery is not. She argued that Ukraine eventually got the much-needed aid, and they never made a public announcement about investigating the Bidens, so there was no wrongdoing.

“A crime doesn’t stop being a crime if it doesn’t work,” Oliver said. “If you’re trying to blow up an airliner and your vest doesn’t go off, you don’t get to go, ‘Well, no harm, no foul.’ And then sit there watching Detective Pikachu for the rest of the flight.”

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on HBO.

Watch John Oliver mock the coal tycoon who brought a ‘bulls***’ lawsuit against him:

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