We’re certainly having a pretty fraught week out here in the United States — so fraught that Seth Meyers didn’t have time to mention the death of a presidential cabinet member from coronavirus during a new 12-minute edition of “A Closer Look” on Thursday’s episode of “Late Night.” Instead, Meyers focused squarely on Donald Trump’s apparent attempt to delay the presidential election.
Meyers referred to the idea, which Trump floated multiple time, as Trump “casually suggesting incinerating American democracy.”
“Trump does not have the legal power to do this. The constitution gives Congress, and only Congress, the power to set the election date. Congress passed the law more than a century and a half ago setting that date. And the 20th Amendment says the president’s term expires in January no matter what,” Meyers said, recapping the legal case against this idea Trump is floating.
But Meyers wanted to remind you that Trump doesn’t care if it’s legal.
“It’s not enough to just consult your pocket Constitution, shrug off the president’s tweet, and move on satisfied that we’ve outmaneuvered him with a fact check. Otherwise, we’re just like AV club nerds explaining to the school bully why it’s illegal to steal our lunch money while he repeatedly dunks our heads in the toilet,” Meyers quipped.
“Because the craven husks around Trump are already laying the groundwork for Trump to do exactly what he wants to do, law be damned. They were already doing it before Trump’s psychotic tweet today. On Tuesday, the attorney general, William Barr, was asked if the president had the power to move the date of an election. Now, this is as straightforward a legal question as you can possibly get. It’s in the constitution and in federal law. There’s no ambiguity. But Barr acted like it was one of the great unsolved mysteries of the universe.”
“Late Night” then pulled up the clip of Barr declaring repeatedly that he didn’t have an answer because he hadn’t looked into it.
“It’s a thing that is clearly prohibited by the constitution and federal law, and which has never been done in the history of the country, including through depressions and wars. It’s not up to you to look into it, you fascist Garfield,” Meyers said. “This guy’s just willfully ignoring the law. Barr clearly doesn’t care what the constitution says, and he doesn’t care if Democrats disapprove of his answers.”
As the segment came to a close, Meyers attempted to sum up the stakes.
“The president and his administration are laying the groundwork to contest or delay a presidential election for the first time in our history while the Republican party largely stands around idly letting it happen,” Meyers said. “A pandemic is raging, our economy is collapsing, and they’re using it as cover to shred our democracy. We can’t just settle for fact checks and finger wags. We have to do something now. Otherwise, Trump’s gonna wake up the day after the election and tell us he’s not leaving.”
You can watch all of the “A Closer Look” segment from Thursday’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers” in the video embedded up at the top of this article, or right here on YouTube.