UPDATED with video: John Oliver opened his seventh season of HBO’s Last Week Tonight by taking aim at the media hyping a potential rift between William Barr and Donald Trump, after the U.S. Attorney General complained last week about the president’s tweeting about Justice Department matters.
Oliver even gave credit to Fox News host Laura Ingraham for telling her viewers that the media saw a Barr-Trump rift as a “sexy” story but “missed the fact that Barr was basically telling Trump, ‘Don’t worry, I got this.'”
“To borrow a phrase used almost exclusively by white supremacists, Laura Ingraham was right,” Oliver said.
The opening segment of Oliver’s show was on the aftermath of Trump’s impeachment acquittal, as he singled out Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for saying that the president had “learned from this case.”
“Of course he hasn’t learned his lesson. Trump never learns his lesson. This is a man whose first born child was Donald Trump Jr., and he kept having children!” Oliver said.
Then he went into the case of Roger Stone, the former Trump associate who was convicted of obstruction, lying under oath and witnesses tampering.
On Monday, prosecutors recommended that a judge impose a sentence between seven to nine years. The next morning, Trump tweeted that the sentence was unfair and a “miscarriage of justice.” Then, on Tuesday afternoon, the Justice Department reversed itself. All four prosecutors on the case then resigned.
Barr gave an interview to ABC News on Thursday in which he complained about Trump’s tweeting about DOJ criminal cases, while insisting that he was already looking to revise the sentencing recommendation on Monday evening, before Trump posted his message about Stone.
“Even if you think the recommended sentence was in fact too long, it is up to the judge whether to impose it, and there’s an appeal system after that,” Oliver said. “But to have DOJ leadership interfering in a case involving a Trump ally, hours after the president directly commented on it, is appalling. This is America. Your experience with the criminal justice system should not depend on how much the president likes you. It should depend on how much money you have, what color your skin is, and whether the judge has already has had lunch. That is how we do things in America. That is how we do things here in the United States, buddy.”
In his ABC News interview, Barr denied that he discussed the case with Trump. But Oliver said that “Barr’s comments weren’t so much ‘Don’t interfere with the Justice Department,’ as they were, ‘Don’t publicly interfere with the Justice Department, because I’m already doing what you want.'”
He cited reports that the DOJ also is reviewing the prosecution of another Trump ally, Michael Flynn.
“All of which suggests that Susan Collins may have been right about one thing: Trump did learn a lesson from his impeachment trial. Specifically, I can get away with anything, because no one will hold me accountable.”
In his second segment, Oliver made the case for Medicare for All. Even though the single-player plan advocated by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would be a huge budgetary and political hurdle, Oliver walked through how it would be replacing a system that is already broken to the point of insanity. He cited the case of a couple trying to finance a surgery for their daughter via a GoFundMe campaign, to the point where they have to hope her plight takes off on social media.
“It is a pretty dystopian society that we are living in if your physical and financial well being depends on whether your crowdfunding campaign can get a signal boost from Jiffpom the pomeranian,” he said. “And good luck with that by the way. I have been trying to post our gerrymandering piece for months now and he won’t do it. Come on Jiffpom. Throw some f*cking bone. You a**hole!”
“The point is, any solution that might put an end to that is worth at least considering, surely,” Oliver said.
Oliver also challenged notions that Medicare for All would be too costly, that it would lead to longer wait times and that it would limit choice by pointing how the current private system has all of those drawbacks.
He said that one thing that Britain “does well” is the single payer National Health Service. “I’ve never had a bad experience, and I don’t know anyone who has. But since moving to America, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t have at least one insurance industry horror story.”
Watch that segment above.
More from Deadline
Last Week Tonight airs Sundays on HBO.
Best of Deadline