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President Trump is a threat to democracy,
but as Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan
have made clear this week, he's not alone.
For more on this, it's time for "A Closer Look."
[ Cheers and applause ]
We know Trump thinks he's above the law.
That much is clear in the Russia investigation.
Trump keeps interfering in that investigation
by dangling the possibility of pardons for his aides
or praising associates who refuse to cooperate
like his ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort
or his former adviser Roger Stone.
-"I feel very badly for Paul Manafort
and his wonderful family.
Justice took a 12-year-old tax case
and, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him.
And unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to break
and make up stories in order to get a deal.
Such respect for a brave man."
-"I will never testify against Trump."
This statement was recently made by Roger Stone,
essentially stating that he will not be forced
by a rogue and out-of-control prosecutor
to make up lies and stories about President Trump.
"Nice to know that some people still have guts!"
-Well, he is right about Stone's guts.
This is a real photo
of his actual outfit from the inauguration.
It takes real guts to go out in public
dressed like a coke dealer from a Charles Dickens novel.
I mean, look at him.
He looks like he's about to carjack Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
And for months, Trump has been openly
floating the possibility of pardoning Manafort,
even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller
tries to get Manafort to cooperate in the investigation.
Trump even praised Manafort publicly
in an interview on Fox News and complained that Mueller
was trying to get him and other Trump associates to flip.
-This whole thing about flipping, they call it --
I know all about flipping.
For 30, 40 years, I've been watching flippers.
They flip on whoever the next-highest one is.
It's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal.
-You know...
Trump may say he's against flipping,
but if he was ever arrested,
he would flip more than a dad working the grill at a cookout.
Here is our scientific computer simulation
of how Donald Trump would react if he was indicted.
"It was Don Jr., it was Eric, it was Ivanka,
it was Melania, it was Tiffany!
Take Tiffany! You don't want me! You want Tiffany!"
[ Cheers and applause ]
And Trump did it again last week
in an interview with the "New York Post"
where he confirmed again
that he's considering pardoning Manafort.
-During an Oval Office interview,
President Trump told the "New York Post"
he has not ruled out a pardon
for former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
"It was never discussed, but I wouldn't take it off the table.
Why would I take it off the table?" The President said.
-Here's my question.
Why are you doing interviews with the "New York Post"?
Trump so desperately wishes he was the mayor of New York
and not the president.
Then all he'd have to do is talk to the "Post,"
show up to ribbon cuttings,
and have sandwiches named after him at delis.
"Make sure you order the Donald Trump.
It's a turkey sandwich,
but the turkey is ham because I'm a liar."
[ Laughter ]
[ Applause ]
Trump was already facing
possible obstruction of justice charges before,
but his comments praising Manafort and Stone
and dangling the possibility of a pardon raised a new question.
Is he also guilty of witness tampering?
That's the opinion of at least one
prominent Republican lawyer, George Conway --
the husband of Kellyanne Conway --
who's been an outspoken critic of Trump.
George Conway retweeted Trump's tweet about Roger Stone
and added this --
"File under '18 USC subsections 1503, 1512.'"
Which are the statutes of witness tampering
and obstruction of justice.
The best part of that move
is that by tweeting out the actual laws,
he made sure Trump will have no idea what he's talking about.
"18 USC 503. What language is this?
You know what? I'm just gonna quick 'translate tweet.'"
[ Mouse clicks ]
[ Laughter ]
[ Applause ]
Trump has been dangling the prospect of a pardon
and hoping Manafort and Stone
will refuse to cooperate with Mueller.
If you're Mueller, the question is, how do you respond to that?
And we found out on Tuesday when he filed a sentencing memo
for ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn
and recommended that Flynn get no jail time
because he's cooperated with multiple investigations.
And yet, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani
tried to argue that that was actually good news for Trump,
although I really can't follow his logic or his syntax.
Here's a text message that Rudy Giuliani,
the President's lawyer, sent to a political reporter
after the Flynn news broke.
"Wow. Big crime for a special whatever.
Maybe a group of angry, bitter Hillary supporters
who are justifying themselves by the goal justifies the means.
Over-the-top unethical behavior."
Does Giuliani's iPhone have auto-incorrect?
I have no idea what that means.
It's like when your grandpa uses the voice-to-text feature
while he's driving.
"Wow. Big crime for special whatever.
Watch where you're going, you idiot.
Oh, that was my exit."
[ Laughter ]
Of course, Rudy isn't just bad with phones.
He's also terrible at Twitter.
Last week, he tweeted, "Mueller filed an indictment
just as the President left for G-20.In July
he indicted the Russians, who will never come here,
just before he left for Helsinki."
But because Giuliani forgot to put a space
between the period and "in," he accidentally created a link.
So someone bought that link for $5,
and now when you click on it, you get this message.
[ Laughter ]
[ Cheers and applause ]
Ya burnt. So basically, ya burnt.
In reality, we burnt because the same grandpa vampire
who wrote that tweet was named cyber security adviser
by Trump in 2017, which is like putting
the Hamburglar in charge of security
at the ground-beef factory.
So the story that's unfolding here is simple.
Trump broke election laws, lied about it,
and then tried to obstruct the investigation with those lies.
He's a threat to democracy and the rule of law.
But he's not alone, as we've seen this week
in states like Wisconsin and Michigan.
After the GOP lost elections in those states,
Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan responded
with pushes to limit the power
of Democrats who won those offices.
The GOP's power grab in Wisconsin is so shameless
that hundreds of protesters have streamed into the capitol
to vent their anger, and they just happened to be there
on the same day that the outgoing
Republican governor, Scott Walker,
was hosting the annual tree-lighting ceremony,
which produced this very odd scene.
-Protesters swarm the capitol for the second day straight.
-The governor of the state of Wisconsin, Scott Walker.
[ Mixed applause and boos ]
-Merry Christmas.
-Demonstrators booed Governor Walker
at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.
-It's so weird to watch someone say "Merry Christmas"
to a bunch of people booing him.
He's like a dad who got his kids a graphing calculator
when what they really wanted was an Xbox.
"Hey, kids, let's do some math.
You want to show me what you're working on?"
[ Laughter ]
Republicans are trying to get away with this as we speak,
but protesters have courageously challenged them
in public hearings.
Here's one Wisconsin resident
who showed up to a public hearing
and stood up to Republicans while also trying
to maintain her Wisconsin politeness.
-Greetings. My name is Jan...
And I'm speaking mainly to the Republicans here
because I believe there is something you don't understand,
and that is that you lost.
You lost! You lost!
The problem is you can't let go of power.
And you're stealing!
I've looked at this panel for six hours.
You couldn't look at us.
You don't trust us. You think you're better.
You think you're more intelligent.
Well, you're not. You're not letting the voters choose.
Look at me!
-Oh, you done it now! Jan is angry!
[ Laughter ]
In Wisconsin...
[ Cheers and applause ]
And that's a big deal because in Wisconsin
the highest threat level is Angry Jan!
[ Laughter ]
Jan even put on her yellin' turtleneck.
Republicans in Michigan are also trying
to preemptively take power away
from the incoming governor
and the incoming attorney general, Dana Nessel,
and if you're wondering if Nessel is the kind of attorney
who's going to sit quietly for that sort of thing,
allow me to direct you to this very real campaign ad
she aired last year.
-If the last few weeks has taught us anything,
it's that we need more women in positions of power, not less.
So when you're choosing
Michigan's next attorney general,
ask yourself this.
Who can you trust most
not to show you their penis in a professional setting?
Is it the candidate who doesn't have a penis?
I'd say so.
[ Cheers and applause ]
And she was right, but unfortunately,
even if Republicans don't take out their penises,
they can still act like a bunch of dicks.
You might be thinking to yourself,
hey, Republicans won the state legislature fair and square,
so they get to pass the laws if they want.
but Republicans actually won the state legislature in Wisconsin
despite getting fewer votes
because gerrymandering in Wisconsin is insane.
-Wisconsin Democrats won a majority of votes
for the state assembly, state legislature.
They won by a margin of 8 points.
That's where Wisconsin Democrats hit a snag.
Because of the way Republicans in Wisconsin
have gerrymandered the districts in the state,
even though the Democrats got more votes in the assembly --
they got a ton more.
They won by 8 points in terms of votes for assembly seats,
but still, Republicans won most of the seats.
-Republicans won 45% of the vote and 64% of the seats.
And look, I'm not saying Dana Nessel
is right about Republicans and penises,
but some of those districts look very strange.
[ Laughter ]
Trump might be the most prominent example
of the GOP's lawlessness, but he's not alone.
We have a president who thinks he's above the law
and Republicans who think they're above elections.
A democracy can't function if you change the rules
after the game just because --
-You lost! You lost! You lost!
-You're a hero, Jan! This has been "A Closer Look."
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Trump's Witness Tampering; Wisconsin GOP's Power Grab: A Closer Look

50 Folder Collection
Jingjiang Li published on January 27, 2019
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