John Oliver Criticizes Trump's Coronavirus Response, Attorney General William Barr in Supersized 'Last Week Tonight'

John Oliver
Courtesy of HBO

"We should probably be grateful he hasn't tried bottling his urine and selling it as Trump Immunity Juice," Oliver said of the president's handling of the virus.

With only two days before the presidential election, John Oliver recorded a supersized episode of Last Week Tonight in which he featured two main stories critical of the Trump presidency. The first one spotlighted Trump's handling of the coronavirus, and the second focused on Attorney General William Barr.

For the first story, Oliver played a clip in which Trump said he's tired of hearing COVID covered so much in the media.

"Believe me, I would love nothing more than to not talk about COVID and return to subjects we normally cover on this show, like scented candle fraud or alpaca veterinarian malpractice, but unfortunately, I can't do that when so many Americans are still dying of COVID … every day," Oliver said.

Oliver then played a news clip in which voters were saying they were satisfied with the way Trump has handled the pandemic and he's "doing the best he can," as one stated.

"Is he?" Oliver said. "I guess that depends, doesn't it? Do you mean he's doing the best that any president can? Or the best that he can? Because if it's the second one, you may actually be right. We should probably be grateful he hasn't tried bottling his urine and selling it as Trump Immunity Juice."

Oliver then outlined three "crucial" areas in which he believes Trump has fallen short in dealing with the coronavirus: preparation, coordination and communication.

He played a clip in which then-President Obama predicated that a deadly airborne disease could very easily be a reality at some point in the future and noted that former President George W. Bush also had been taking steps to prepare for a pandemic.

And yet, said Oliver, Trump's administration "disbanded Obama's pandemic team" and "cut CDC staff operating in China by more than two-thirds" and terminated a pandemic early-warning program.

He also criticized Trump for responding too slowly when authorities learned about the coronavirus, even though Trump repeatedly boasted about putting "a ban on China." But Oliver noted that 45 other countries had instituted a travel ban before the U.S. and Trump was too slow to restrict travel from Europe, which is what primarily led to the outbreak in New York.

He added that the Trump administration also ignored early warnings from Prestige Ameritech executive vp Mike Bowen about a potential mask shortage and his suggestion on how to get ahead of that.

Oliver also talked about how Trump has "repeatedly underlined public messaging" from the start even though he knew "early on just how bad this could get." Oliver showed news clips showing in private recordings that Trump had talked about how bad the virus was but downplayed its danger in public speeches.

Even after the CDC recommended that people wear masks in public, Trump downplayed that as "voluntary" and said he wouldn't be wearing a mask.

"And just like that, wearing a mask was a political issue," Oliver said, noting that Trump didn't wear a mask in public until July. "You can't effectively convince someone to do something while refusing to do it yourself. … It's about setting a good example."

Added Oliver: "This virus has taken so much from us: our peace of mind, our routines and nearly a quarter of a million Americans. And it's frankly pathetic that in response, the only things Trump has offered people in this country over the past eight months are damaging lies [and] staggering incompetence."

For his second main story, Oliver turned his focus to Attorney General Barr, whom Oliver said will be "more dangerous" if Trump wins a second term.

Oliver did a deep dive into Barr's record ranging from his strict beliefs regarding law and order to the time he beat up protesters while in college (and later bragged about it) to his denial that systemic racism in police departments exists to his moves seemingly aimed at giving more power to Trump.

Oliver also opined that Barr has been harsh to protesters of police brutality, using force to try to impose a "moral order."

"He gives radically conservative views the veneer of seasoned legal analysis, delivering utter nonsense while hiding behind Whoopi Goldberg glasses," Oliver said.

Oliver ended his show by urging viewers to vote and noted that he had already voted in his first U.S. presidential election since becoming a citizen last year.