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SNL’s cold open brought back Alec Baldwin’s Trump, concluded “nothing matters anymore”

The mock interview touched on James Comey, Russia, and “priming the pump” in what functioned as a defeatist rundown of a surreal news week.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Tonight’s live coast-to-coast episode of Saturday Night Live was one of the most anticipated episodes in of what’s been a big season for the show, with host Melissa McCarthy ascending to SNL’s “Five-Timers Club” and bringing back her brilliant Sean Spicer impersonation at the end of an eventful week for the White House and its beleaguered press secretary.

But the episode’s cold open was a relatively straightforward take on President Trump’s divisive and incendiary decision this week to fire FBI Director James Comey, featuring the SNL recurring guest we almost forgot was a recurring guest — Alec Baldwin as President Trump.

The cold open featured Baldwin’s Trump being interviewed by SNL cast member Michael Che as NBC News anchor Lester Holt. Che’s Holt attempted to conduct an interview with the president about his decision to fire Comey in the middle of an investigation into the administration’s ties to Russia. The answer he received was predictably unexpected.

“I fired him because of Russia, I thought, he’s investigating Russia, I don’t like that, I should fire him,” said Baldwin’s Trump.

“So … did I get him? Is this all over?” asked Che’s Holt into his earpiece, acknowledging an answer that would, in any other context, be a smoking gun. Instead: “No, I didn’t? Nothing matters? Absolutely nothing matters anymore?”

Baldwin’s Trump then joked that he was not comparable to President Nixon, spoofing many comparisons of the president’s decision to Nixon’s decision to fire the Watergate special prosecutor.

“I am nothing like Nixon because I am not a crook,” he said, while flashing Nixon’s famous double peace sign.

The cold open interview also touched on other moments in an intense week for the president, like Trump referencing the phrase “priming the pump,” which Baldwin’s Trump promptly transformed into sexual innuendo.

“You have just earned yourself an Anderson Cooper eye roll,” Holt said in response, accompanied by an inset shot of Alex Moffat’s Cooper doing exactly that.

Altogether, the sketch seemed to be a largely defeatist take on a tumultuous week that has left politicians largely divided over whether Trump crossed an ethical line, and left Trump himself defensive ... or, the sketch suggests, perhaps not.

“Do you think I care about optics?” asked Baldwin’s indifferent Trump at the end of his SNL interview. “Look at me, I sit on every chair like it’s a toilet.”

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