John Oliver Breaks Down Just How Scary Trump’s Second Term Could Get

Last Week Tonight on HBO
Last Week Tonight on HBO

Recent polling for Election 2024 showing former President Donald Trump leading President Joe Biden had John Oliver concerned enough to warn Last Week Tonight viewers Sunday about what’s in store for Americans.

Basing his claims on the “Project 2025” playbook already drawn up for Trump by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, he explained what would happen if Trump wins re-election.

“You can go on his website and see it all laid out, and it’s pretty alarming,” Oliver said.

The host said he and his show clearly see Biden as the only choice this November, “even if I have a lot of issues with him,” and advise viewers not to vote for Trump for anything, “not even for The Masked Singer.”

The comedian mocked Trump for one current campaign video in which he promised a bill limiting recognition of Americans to the genders they were assigned at birth, then claimed nobody had ever heard of trans people until a few years ago, when the “radical left” “invented” the concept. “That is really the Trump experience in a nutshell right there. Hateful ideology, a promise to make life harder for minorities, all wrapped up in a non sequitur so stupid it is inconveniently funny,” Oliver said. “The radical left invented trans people a few years ago? I’m sorry. What?!? Did they put it on Shark Tank and I somehow missed it?”

But the goals of Project 2025, and the people behind it, are a lot less funny and a whole lot creepier. Mass deportations. Bringing back stop-and-frisk policing. Cutting funding to schools that endorsed vaccinations or masking. And getting revenge on all of the perceived enemies of Trump and the Republicans. “At rallies he’s told supporters that ‘I am your retribution,’ which sounds like something you’d hear out of the mouth of Megatron rather than a major presidential candidate,” Oliver said.

For those who recall some of Trump’s 2016 campaign promises that never came to fruition, Oliver explained that “Trump as president was sort of like a hamster in an attack helicopter,” adding, “luckily he doesn’t know what buttons to press and his brain’s the size of a peanut so that’s put some hard limits on the damage he’s actually able to do.” Project 2025 provides Trump with a “step-by-step game plan,” much like the Federalist Society had given him to fill judicial vacancies from the U.S. Supreme Court on down, but now for maneuvering around Congress or the courts to overhaul the entire federal government. “That is why while Trump’s first term was bad, his second could be much, much worse,” Oliver said.

The 920-page book, backed by about 100 different conservative groups, outlines plans to dismantle the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to get around climate change warnings, eliminate the Head Start early education program for kids from low-income families, defund the Department of Justice, rip apart the FBI, completely eliminate cabinet-level departments of Education and Commerce, and outlaw porn, imprisoning porn producers.

“They’ve been laying all this out in plain view,” Oliver said.

Leading the charge, he singled out Russ Vought, a former Trump director of the Office of Management and Budget and “self-described Christian Nationalist.” and John McEntee, “the guy who literally carried Trump’s bags” before Trump, on a whim, promoted him to head up the White House’s personnel office. “Their goal here is clear: To assemble an army of vetted, trained staff who can begin dismantling the administrative state from day one. Which is a little weird if you think about it. They’re assembling an army of future government bureaucrats who hate the government,” Oliver said.

They’d achieve their takeover largely through Schedule F—an executive order Trump initially signed in October 2020 only to have it undone immediately by Biden in 2021. The order reclassified a vast majority of the federal government’s civil servants as political appointees, putting them directly under Trump’s power to hire and fire at will. Vought explained to Kimberly Guilfoyle last month on her Rumble show: “That doesn’t mean you’re going to get fired tomorrow, but that does mean that you are now working for the president of the United States. You’re not working for your own institution or your own institution’s benefits.”

McEntee, between working for Trump’s White House and recruiting new potential employees, also built a MAGA-worthy dating app, The Right Stuff, which Oliver described as “Tradwife eHarmony.” To promote that enterprise, McEntee has filmed an array of short quippy TikTok videos from the POV of dining out on a date with him, many of which Oliver skewered for their outright racism or misogyny. But Oliver also played one TikTok from January in which McEntee suggested: “So Elon Musk cut 90 percent of Twitter’s staff, and it’s still working fine. Should we try that with government next?

“Is that the best comparison, though?” Oliver asked. “I’m not sure Twitter is working fine so much as it’s a ruined castle slowly sinking into the bog of irrelevance, but I guess there are a lot more Nazis on there now, which does seem to track with your plans for government.”

And following through with the goals of “Project 2025” would mean, for one example cited by Oliver, Trump could simply replace the FDA with lackeys who’d decree abortion pills unsafe.

“For all of Trump’s talk about wanting to get rid of the Deep State, Schedule F isn’t eliminating it, it is creating a Deep State that is loyal to him and driving good people out of government,” Oliver said. “And I do get that ‘Trump Unraveling Civil Service Protections’ isn’t the sexiest headline, but it’s also the action that could unlock his ability to do all of the incredibly damaging things that he and those involved in ‘Project 2025’ have been planning.”

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