“This is big,” announced Bill Maher at the top of Friday night’s Real Time.
The HBO host was of course referring to the big news of the day: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment charging 13 Russians—and several companies—with interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
According to Mueller’s indictment, which heavily relied on findings by The Daily Beast, the baker’s dozen were linked to a Kremlin-backed troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, and “had as its object impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable the Defendants to interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
“I know this is a slow-moving story, the [Russia probe] indictments…but this was big today,” offered Maher at the top of his monologue. “[Mueller] indicted 13 Russian nationals [and] three Russian companies for their plot to use social media to rat-fuck our 2016 election. And you know how Trump always says, ‘No collusion!?’ It’s getting close.”
He continued: “The indictment says the Russians were in communication with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump administration. Yeah, that’s the problem: ‘unwitting.’ It could’ve been anybody. But this indictment goes into great detail about how, when these Russians posed as Americans to sow discord among us, they went to great lengths to appear like they were regular, real Americans. They bought space on American web servers, they used American slang, they gained fifty pounds…”
Indeed, as our own Spencer Ackerman reported of the indictment, “The IRA organized August 2016 rallies called ‘Florida Goes Trump’ and promoted them online. Those rallies echoed Trump’s ‘Lock Her Up’ theme for Clinton. Russian trolls ‘asked one U.S. person to build a cage on a flatbed truck and another U.S. person to wear a costume portraying Clinton in a prison uniform,’ which occurred at a West Palm Beach rally.”
Despite Special Counsel Mueller securing guilty pleas from ex-Trump aides George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, Trump has repeatedly dismissed the ongoing Russia probe as “fake news,” and said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 election.
“I just want to ask the Trump voters…what is left for you? He’s plainly a traitor who doesn’t defend his own country,” Maher said of Trump. “This is not a hoax. This really happened…and [the Russians] were trying to get Trump elected.”
On Friday afternoon, President Trump appeared to finally sort of acknowledge Russian interference, tweeting, “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong—no collusion!”
Maher wasn’t buying it.
“How can they not be impeaching [Trump] now?” asked the comedian. “Because Trump gets his information from the same place that Robert Mueller got his information for this indictment: the FBI. So, he knew this all along as well. This whole time that he has been saying…this wasn’t happening—today he finally said it was happening—he knew. That’s an impeachable offense to me. He’s saying, ‘This country was under attack and I didn’t do anything about it.’ He said, ‘I talked to Putin and I believe him.’ What if after 9/11 Bush said, ‘I talked to bin Laden and I believe him?’”