Aired on August 9, 2021
Seth Meyers takes a closer look at damning new evidence of Donald Trump’s plan to overthrow democracy.
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There is damming new evidence of Donald Trump’s plan to overthrow our democracy. Meanwhile, Republican governors are standing in the way of basic mitigation efforts against the surging COVID-19 Delta variant. For more on this, it’s time for “A Closer Look.”
We promised to stop talking about Donald Trump the day he stops talking. But, even now that he’s out of office, Trump and his movement always find new ways to shock. For example, the self-labeled America First movement has taken up a new cause — rooting against American national sports teams.
[Trump] The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team is a very good example of what’s going on.
[Cheering and applause]
[Trump] Earlier this week, they unexpectedly lost to Sweden 3-0.
[Cheering, whistling, and applause]
[Trump] And Americans were happy about it. You proved that point before I even said it.
[Trump] Look at the soccer team, the women’s soccer team. All of a sudden, they’re not — like they were — they were supposed to win the gold medal. But you know the word woke means “loser.” If you’re woke, [Laughter] you’re going to lose.
First of all, love this conceit that Trump follows women’s soccer.
[As Trump] I can’t believe nobody got a foot on that cross when you’re down 2-nil. That’s what happens when you’re woke.
You don’t react to the crosses. You’re a former U.S. president rooting against a U.S. national sports team? You, the guy who consistently went to third base with the American flag? A former President rooting against a U.S. national team is like Mr. Met showing up to a game in a Yankees Jersey. Although, after this weekend, I wouldn’t blame him. When he saw Sunday’s box score, the Mets-loving Cigarette Smoking Cockroach started lamenting his immortality. [Raspy smoker’s voice] I can’t believe I’m going to live forever and never see this team win it all. You thought, just because we were on a two-week hiatus, we wouldn’t immediately come busting out of the gate with some callbacks from recurring characters? Well, then, I guess you have a worse memory than the crew of the Enterprise, when they got stuck in that time loop. “TNG,” the new “M-A-S-H”? Make it so.
The U.S. women’s soccer team has been wildly successful and, on top of that, no one on the team ever singlehandedly drove a sports league into the ground like Trump did with the USFL. If you don’t remember that story, Trump bought a USFL, or United States Football League, team, moved the league from the spring to the fall, to compete with the NFL, or the National Football League, which you probably remember because they’re, you know, still here, sued the NFL for $1.69 billion and was awarded exactly $1 by the jury. And I have to say, hats off to that jury because it is very funny to reward someone $1 after they sue for almost $1.7 billion. That’s like giving your employees a holiday bonus of a Starbucks gift card with 50 cents on it. Hi, what can I get for 50 cents? “You can, uh, get out of the [bleep] way.”
There’s also a chance the jury knew Trump would keep suing, unless they gave him something to save face. “You get nothing.”
[As Trump] This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me. “You get a dollar.”
[As Trump] And, once again, Donald Trump is in the winner’s circle.
Oh, it ripped!
Also, I’m not sure the massively successful U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, which has won four World Cups, including in 2019, should have to listen to lessons on winning from a guy who doesn’t even know how to hold a soccer ball, much less kick one. Remember when Putin gave him one as a gift in Helsinki and he held it like he thought it was a precious dinosaur egg? That’s the way your 40-year-old single friend holds a baby. “Oh, no, no, no, no. Okay, take it back. Take it back.” He’s holding that thing like he thinks it’s going to bite him. It reminds me of Bloomberg holding Staten Island Chuck on Groundhog Day. Interesting fact — that day, Bloomberg saw his shadow and decided to run for president. Same thing happened to de Blasio, so.
Maybe Trump is just mad because the U.S. women’s national team is both more successful and more popular than he is. They’ve smashed viewership and merchandise records.
Meanwhile, a new poll from Quinnipiac last week found that…
… 60 percent of respondents said it would be bad for the country if Trump were to launch a bid for president in 2024.
Thirty-two percent of respondents, however, said another Trump campaign would be good for the country.
A full 60% don’t want him to run again. That means even some of the people who voted for him are like, “I don’t know if I can put myself through that again.” It’s like how no one does “Hot Ones” twice. I mean, I did it and loved it, but, the next time I got interviewed, it was back to the non-spicy stylings of Terry Gross, where I was asked thoughtful questions while not worrying if I was going to sh*t my pants mid-answer. [Laughter] “I’m sorry, is that your stomach making those noises?” Um, it is, Terry, and I think I should probably go.
Still, that 32% is always just going to be shocking to me. Four years of chaos and corruption that ended with all of us being trapped in our houses, using cardboard for toilet paper to avoid a deadly plague the president said could be cured by snacking on Tide Pods like cheese balls, and, still, 32% of the country says, “Yes, more of that.” It’s insane.
It’s the same thing that I get when I’m driving around in the suburbs and I see a Honey Baked Ham store. People like ham that much? I mean, there are enough people who like slimy, uncut, wet lunch meat to keep a chain, a national chain, of stores in business? I mean, sometimes I park across from the store, just to see what kind of maniac is going in on a Friday afternoon and just buying a whole-ass ham.
And then, they send security out and they tell me I’m the maniac for sitting there watching. Like, “Hey, it’s America! I can watch the ham store.”
But this is why they need to rig elections to win — because they’re so unpopular. In a way, I guess it’s not surprising that the people rooting against American sports also tried to dismantle American democracy. And, now, we have more proof than ever that Trump’s attempt to subvert last year’s election wasn’t just a mood swing or temper tantrum. There was a detailed plan, with key allies in the White House and Justice Department, including one particular hatchet man who came incredibly close to detonating American democracy.
[MSNBC] Just days before the deadly January 6th assault on the Capitol, one of the ex-president’s top Department of Justice officials at the time was circulating a draft letter that would’ve helped Georgia Republicans overturn Biden’s victory in that state. Jeffrey Clark, who was the acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division at the time, wrote emails that essentially would’ve laid out a roadmap and given permission for Georgia Republicans to subvert the election results.
It says in part…
The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States.
… at this time we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.
While the Department of Justice believes the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for the limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors.
How is it that there’s always a smoking gun with these guys? There’s always an email or a phone call or an accidental televised confession from Rudy Giuliani proving our worst fears? Like you can be forgiven for thinking a petulant Trump just got mad and decided on a whim to call the election rigged and then, he sent Rudy to hold a press conference at a landscaping company, where I’m guessing he also got his hair cut by a hedge trimmer, and then, it all just kind of snowballed from there. But no, Rudy, he was just a helpful smokescreen that let us all think, “That’s too crazy to work.” But they had a much more sophisticated plan than that.
This guy, Jeffrey Clark, a key Justice Department official, was going to send a letter to Georgia’s governor and state legislature, essentially telling them to overturn their state’s election results, on the basis of nonexistent voter fraud. And it wasn’t just Georgia. He was going to send it to all the swing states Trump wanted to overturn.
It turns out that this guy, Jeff Clark, was writing or drafting these types of letters to all the six states that ended up going for Joe Biden. And I think that, you know, what we see is the beginning of the effort to overturn the election.
There’s always an obscure functionary willing to do the villains dirty work. Jeffrey Clark’s like the guy who opens the monkey cage in the first five minutes of a zombie movie. I mean, can you imagine what would’ve happened if, not Trump, but the Trump Justice Department, sent out an official statement claiming there was fraud in the election and telling Republican legislatures in six states to overturn the results? Mike Lindell would’ve exploded into a thousand pillow feathers. Or, I guess, since it’s a MyPillow, he would’ve exploded into a thousand charcoal briquettes.
[As Lindell] The charcoal gives the pillow its patented rock-like texture and helps you wake up with that fresh hickory smell. Anyway, I’ll take two of your biggest hams! [Laughter] You should know there’s a guy peeping in his car out front, by the way. This ham is delicious. Usually, I get my lunch meats from Da Boar’s Head! [Laughter]
I’m so happy to be back. [Laughter] It’s easy to write off Trump and his cronies as a bunch of idiot goofballs — which they were — but they also had a very real plan with key allies at the top levels of the White House, the Justice Department, and state legislatures across the country that came extremely close to nuking American democracy and plunging us into an unprecedented crisis. The only thing that stopped them was senior DOJ leadership threatening to quit.
But just imagine if the next Republican president socks the DOJ with loyalists who follow his orders or a Republican-controlled Congress refuses to certify a Democratic victory. What then? We can’t just hope the next coup attempt falls apart when Rudy Giuliani accidentally shows up at the wrong location.
[As Giuliani] Boss, I’m at the Walmart in Astoria.
[As Trump] I said the Waldorf Astoria.
[As Giuliani] Oh, Rudy, you done it again!
We all know all of this was orchestrated by Trump and his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, because we have the DOJ memos to prove it. Trump told the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, at the time, the guy Clark was trying to replace, that he wanted the DOJ to declare the election rigged, so he and Republicans in Congress could overturn it. Trump told DOJ leaders, according to the memos…
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,”
Anytime Trump says, “Leave the rest to me,” you’re going to be in trouble. I’m sure that’s what he said to the other USFL owners right before he sued the NFL, only to show up a few months later asking —
[As Trump] What’s a dollar split 18 ways?
And, yet, even as we learn more about Trump’s attempt to overthrow the election and his sinking popularity in polls, he and his supporters are trying to concoct a fantasy world where the chaos, misery, incompetence, and mass suffering of the Trump era was actually popular and good. Trump’s big, wet, honey-baked son Don Jr. said basically the same thing on Fox last week.
[Don Jr.] Joe Biden’s only legacy, Sean, at this point, is going to be showing America how good they actually had it under Donald Trump.
I don’t know. I feel like Biden’s legacy is going to be, as the EMT who showed up to talk you down after you accidentally ate a whole bag of your weird aunt’s pot gummy bears. “Stay with me, buddy. I know you feel like your heart’s bouncing here and there and everywhere, but this is all going to be over soon.”
And, even if you take Trump out of the equation, Republicans are all committed to the project and the performance to Trumpism. They’re desperate to mimic him. That’s why GOP politicians, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, are all trying to imitate Trump’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with DeSantis even going so far as to ban local governments and school boards from imposing their own mask mandates.
Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID. This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to, “Shut down the virus.” And what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide open southern border. … We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state. And I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state. [Applause] Why don’t you get this border secure and, until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.
Oh, you don’t want to hear a blip about a deadly, highly contagious virus from the president of the United States? Let me guess — you’d prefer his thoughts on the wokeness of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team? Also, when you use the word blip, you sound like an angry grandma babysitting her kids.
“This is knitting time. I don’t want to hear another blip about ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ You can finish Lester’s assassination mission after you’re done crocheting this blanket!”
And I’m no scientist, but I do have Google Maps on my phone and I’m pretty sure the border has nothing to do with the Florida COVID surge, since the border’s like 1,000 miles from Florida. You don’t get to blame something that far away for your problems. If a kid in Nebraska throws his Frisbee in the neighbor’s lawn, he can’t say it was caught in the strong winds of La Niña. Originally written as El Niño, but then, we did some research, found out El Niño? Soft winds. And we didn’t want to hear from you guys, in “Corrections,” about how I got it wrong.
So we got it right.
But, you know, I feel bad for the people of Florida. They’re not as lucky as we New Yorkers are because our governor is beyond reproach. What’s that?
Oh, really? A whole report? A hundred and sixty-eight pages? This is the first I’m hearing about it. Well, I watch CNN. Weeknights, 9:00 pm. [Gasp] That’s his brother?!
Back to DeSantis. “Biomedical security state” makes you sound like an out-of-work screenwriter trying to sell a sci-fi movie to a director at a dinner party.
[As DeSantis] It takes place in the year 3049. The U.S. is a biomedical security state and the president has to stop an army of space lizards who look like Dr. Fauci, forcing everyone to take a vaccine that turns them into Chihuahuas.
“Why wouldn’t the vaccine also turn them into lizards?”
Because it ends with the Taco Bell dog, who’s the resistance leader, looking directly into the camera and saying, “Yo quiero freedom.”
“I’m going to go. I’m out of ham.”
We now have yet another smoking gun in the story of the Trump coup attempt. On top of that, Republican governors are actively standing in the way of attempts to mitigate the Delta COVID surge. There’s a throughline here. The party actively makes things worse and, when people don’t like it, they try to subvert democracy to stay in power, even though polls clearly show that, when Trump and the GOP lost, most Americans…
[Trump] Were happy about it.
This has been “A Closer Look.”
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