Donald Trump should’ve been able to turn his campaign around this week. Released State Department emails revealed that Hillary Clinton provided meetings—and possibly even pay-to-play State Department positions—to prominent Clinton Foundation donors while serving as secretary of state, and BuzzFeed dropped a lengthy profile of Juanita Broaddrick, who has long accused Bill Clinton of rape, on Sunday.And yet Trump’s campaign continues to crater. “She was eclipsed by the imploding star that is Donald Trump—the owner of what you might describe as ‘resting rich face,’” joked John Oliver on Sunday’s edition of Last Week Tonight. “This was the 53rd consecutive week he was going to put his campaign back on track.”It didn’t happen. Instead, Trump followed up his week of slamming a Gold Star family on the basis of their religion by claiming during a rally that President Obama is “the founder of ISIS” and that “the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.” That, of course, is not only patently untrue but also dangerous rhetoric that was later echoed by the leader of Hezbollah.
“Wow,” said Oliver. “Now clearly what he just said is absolutely absurd, but even when people try to help him reframe it, he doubled down.”
Yes, Trump was given a chance to walk back the comments in an interview with conservative blowhard Hugh Hewitt but instead reiterated that he meant exactly what he said. “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” said Trump. “I don’t care, he was the founder.”“He’s so insistent! He’s like the guy drowning but waving off a lifeboat, saying, ‘Get out of here, I’m very buoyant. I’m the most buoyant. Everybody talks about my buoyancy. I’m a tremendous floater,’” joked Oliver.And then Trump first seemed to blame the incendiary comments—accusing the president of the United States and former secretary of state of being the co-founders of a terrorist organization—on “sarcasm” with an early-morning tweet:
“And yes, ‘sarcasm’ is a bullshit excuse,” said the HBO host. “It’s the douchebag’s apology.” But wait! In a subsequent speech, Trump walked back the walk-back, declaring, “So I said ‘the founder of ISIS.’ Obviously I’m being sarcastic…but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you.”“What are you doing?!” exclaimed Oliver. “You know that riddle where there are two people, one who always lies, and one who always tells the truth? Donald Trump is both those people at once.”
More troubling—if you can believe that—were Trump’s repeated comments about how the general election is “rigged” (based on zero evidence) and that the Democrats would only win Pennsylvania if they “cheat.”“What is really worth taking note of there, and is worth thinking about, is that he’s suggesting the election may be stolen by his opponent—and that’s actually dangerous,” said Oliver. “He is priming his supporters to question the result when he loses Pennsylvania, as polls indicate he will, and as all Republican presidential candidates have since 1988. And he’s not just talking the talk here, he’s asking his supporters to walk the walk.”
The Trump website actually features an application for a “Trump Election Observer,” a position whose mission—it seems—is to help spy on voting centers and make sure everything is running smoothly.
“In a way, we are all Trump Election Day observers, because if you look out of your window in November and see Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you’ll know, oh shit, they just called Florida,” quipped Oliver.
So Oliver and his Last Week Tonight team signed up to be a “Trump Election Observer” and were first met with a campaign donation request (they didn’t donate), then received an automated email from the campaign that read, “We are going to do everything we are legally allowed to do to stop crooked Hillary from rigging this election.”“Which is troubling because I’m not sure if Donald Trump knows what he’s legally allowed to do!” said Oliver. “His own attorney once had to apologize for saying, ‘You can’t rape your own spouse’”—a comment he’d made to The Daily Beast in response to a story about how the real estate mogul’s ex-wife Ivana reportedly once accused him of “rape.” “Look, I cannot wait for this campaign to be over,” sighed Oliver, “but part of me is going to miss him when he’s gone.”