HBO’s John Oliver on Sunday presented his argument for impeaching on his show “Last Week Tonight,” arguing the president has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” worthy of opening an inquiry.
Oliver, a frequent critic of the president and the administration, acknowledged that neither the public nor the majority of the Democratic Party have been supportive of impeaching Trump, but he said he wanted to lay out his reasoning for the proceedings.
“House Speaker has repeatedly attempted to apply the brakes to an impeachment inquiry, claiming the country is not behind it and that, in fact, they barely understand what it actually means,” Oliver said as he opened the show. “It is true that many people don’t fully understand what impeachment involves, so we thought tonight might be a good time to discuss what it is, why it may be warranted, and what the risks might be in carrying it out.”
Oliver argued that while no president has actually been removed from office due to impeachment, the report from special counsel showed that Trump had indeed committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
He specifically focused on the instances in the report where Trump may have committed obstruction of justice, particularly noting Trump’s order to then-White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, which McGahn did not follow.
“It seems the president obstructed justice — then obstructed justice again to obstruct the investigation into his obstruction of justice. It’s ridiculous,” Oliver said. “Here’s why it really matters: But for Don McGahn, Trump might have stopped an investigation into himself, and if a president can shut down an investigation, he can basically do anything with no consequences. It’s a big, big deal.”
Oliver said impeachment is necessary because the Mueller report has been public for more than two months and has failed to move the needle for public support of impeachment — likely because few have read it — so starting an inquiry would “shine a light” on what is in the Mueller report.
“Even if Trump is not removed, which he probably won’t be, the process could shine a light on the contents of the Mueller report, potentially lead to new revelations about Trump’s conduct and force his Republican allies to choose — publicly and on the record — whether or not to hold him to account,” he said.
Oliver concluded by also noting the potential consequences for not opening an impeachment inquiry.
“And you might well say, even so, opening an impeachment inquiry is just too risky, and I do get that. I’ve gone back and forth on this myself for that very reason,” he said. “And to be honest, the thing that’s tipped the scales for me is remembering that not opening an inquiry comes with consequences too, because it essentially sends the message that the president can act with impunity, which is a dangerous precedent to set — not just for future presidents but for the current one.”
Pelosi has been hesitant to call for impeachment proceedings, saying the move “is not even close in our caucus,” but she has faced mounting pressure from rank-and-file Democrats, some committee chairmen and even members of her own leadership team.
There are currently 61 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. (Mich.), calling for impeachment proceedings to begin.