The news cycle got a one-two punch last week with the bombshell announcement that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been investigating the president for his ties to Russia. That was immediately followed by Trump's total contradiction of the mollifying statements put out by his administration. John Oliver addressed Trump firing Comey on Last Week Tonight, and the late-night host challenged Congress with a major call for accountability after unpacking the total absurdity of what went down.
First, there was the bizarre letter Trump wrote to Comey, in which he specifically outlined how the FBI director assured him that he wasn't being investigated.
"It is just inherently suspicious to try and put words in Comey's mouth as you kick him out the door," Oliver pointed out. "That is the equivalent of a breakup text reading, 'While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I was the most enthusiastic, dextrous, and intuitive lover you've ever had, I must terminate your position as my girlfriend. Eggplant emoji.'"
Then, the White House put out multiple damage control statements shifting blame for the ouster to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who they claim had given the recommendation. They also claimed Trump was "acting on behalf of a demoralized FBI," but the president torpedoed both of those explanations in an interview with Lester Holt. During the interview, he not only took full credit for the decision to fire Comey, but Trump also admitted that the potential for a Russia investigation was the reason why he did it. The president later sent a plainly threatening tweet about the former FBI director, which Paul Ryan refused to acknowledge when questioned by the press about its propriety.
Oliver granted that the entire story churned up a familiar sense of disbelief, but "the important question is: what do the rest of us do?" He called on Congress to start acting, for one thing:
Because it is time for each and every one of them to pick a lane here. They do have options. Obviously, there are the investigations that are currently ongoing, but they could also press Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special council within the Justice Department. But at the very, very least here, they need to acknowledge that what has happened is f*cked up.
... The founding fathers created a system of checks and balances to limit the power of the president, but it only works if someone f*cking checks or balances. And if you don't, it's no longer on Trump: it's on you. Because when you've got the presidential equivalent of a 5-year-old sh*tting on the salad bar of a Ruby Tuesday's, at some point, you stop blaming the 5-year-old, and start blaming the people who aren't stopping him. Stop that boy, that's what I'm saying.
The first step would be acknowledging that there's a problem, but Congress seem reluctant to even get that far. The onslaught of shocking decision-making from the president appears to be coming on too hard and fast for anyone to halt it, investigate it, or reverse it in any meaningful way. And that's probably the scariest news of all.