Jimmy Kimmel is rarely at a loss for words, but the comedian and talk show host truly seemed shocked to learn that he was purportedly one of the unwitting targets in a plot launched by Donald Trump to enlist the Department of Justice’s help in *checks notes* forcing late-night comedy shows to stop making jokes about him. On Tuesday night’s show, Kimmel talked about the Daily Beast story, which claimed that in early 2019, Trump spoke with advisers and lawyers about “what the Federal Communications Commission, the courts systems, and—most confusingly to some Trump lieutenants—the Department of Justice could do to probe or mitigate SNL, Jimmy Kimmel, and other late-night comedy mischief-makers.”
While the audience cheered, Kimmel made it clear that “I don’t want him probing me.” And he was clearly taken aback by the entire report—which, if true, yet again shows Trump’s desire for America to transition to a state-run media system like the ones seen in Russia and North Korea. But there was more to the report:
“The report goes on to say, ‘To those who heard it, Trump’s inquiries into what federal regulations could be used to bust the likes of Kimmel and SNL was more of a nuisance than a constitutional crisis.’ To me it feels more like a crisis than a nuisance. I don’t know. Little did I know, I’m up here goofing on him, he’s asking the feds to do who knows what.
And when he was told there was no legal case to be made—that you can’t stop comedians from making fun of you when you’re president—Trump asked, ‘Can something else be done about it?’ Basically, Trump wanted to turn the Department of Justice into… remember on the old Batman show, the Penguin had those henchman in the bowler hats and the tight black shirts? This is what Trump wanted—a Goon Squad. A bunch of tough guys to rough people up because he can’t take a joke. He can make one. In fact, he’s made several: Eric, Ivanka, Don Jr.”
For his part, Trump has denied the allegations that any of this story is true. He issued his denial the way most former presidents do: via a bizarre blog that he has otherwise abandoned (because he has been banned from the most popular social media sites for spreading wild lies and inciting violence), in which he said: “The story that I asked the Department of Justice to go after ratings-challenged (without Trump!) Saturday Night Live, and other late-night Losers, is total Fake News.”
Spoken like a totally normal 75-year-old former president who would never try to abuse the power of the White House to silence his detractors.
You can watch the full clip above.