John Oliver Makes the Case for Impeachment on Last Week Tonight

Melissa Locker

John Oliver devoted Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight to discussing impeachment, which he notes “is an anagram for ‘pinch me meat‘, which got the Lucky Charms leprechaun got #MeToo-ed.”

In the wake of the release of Robert Mueller’s report, the question of whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump has been hotly debated by House Democrats. While 63 of them are currently in favor of enacting the constitutional mechanism to remove the president from office, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not onboard and claims the country is neither ready for, nor understands, impeachment. Oliver is here to correct that.

He explains that while Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were impeached, both remained in office. Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency before the impeachment process could be finished, which Oliver says is “sort of like an Irish goodbye, if Nixon didn’t also hate the Irish.”

Impeachment begins in the House of Representatives. If a majority finds there were impeachable offenses, they pass articles of impeachment, which formally accuse the President of misbehavior. Then, the Senate holds a formal trial to decide whether or not to remove the commander-in-chief from office.

To be impeached, a President or other federal official must have committed one of the violations described by the Constitution as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” In a video clip, Donald Trump argued that a president must be guilty of both high crimes and misdemeanors to be impeached.

Oliver, however, disagrees noting that there doesn’t need to be both “a big crime and a little crime.” “Oh well, the President has committed murder now we just need to catch him urinating on the side of Wawa and we got him,” he says. “No. That’s not how anything works.”

Oliver believes that Mueller made a strong case that Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice, a crime that was included in the articles of impeachment for both Nixon and Clinton. However, because “most people are never going to read a 448-page legal document” that lays out the case, many people aren’t aware that Trump may have committed a crime and so there may not be enough political will to being the impeachment process, he says.

According to Oliver, the Democrats have been trying to draw attention to the findings in the report, which could be key to getting public opinion about impeachment to change. “For a while, people thought Watergate, the scandal that we now use as shorthand for every political scandal, didn’t matter,” says Oliver, noting that in the 1970s people also thought “shag carpeting was attractive and Liberace just hadn’t met the right girl yet. That decade had a lot to learn.”

To close out his argument for beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump, Oliver notes that just because impeachment may not remove Trump from office, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing to show that no one is above the law. “Every a-shole succeeds until finally they don’t,” he says.