Saturday Night Live skewered President Donald Trump’s tortured attempts at defending himself from damning testimony in last week’s impeachment hearings in the show’s opening sketch, which sees the president squirming and spinning yarns before the press only to run into US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who immediately admits to quid pro quo.
Alec Baldwin reprised his role as Trump, appearing on the White House lawn and repeatedly using the excuse of a waiting helicopter to evade questions from reporters about the impeachment hearings.
“As you can see from this very loud, running helicopter behind me, I’m in a big, big hurry right now so I don’t really have the time, but everything is perfect, okay?”
When reporters ask him about Sondland’s testimony — which in real life involved describing two quid pro quo deals that Trump had attempted to make with Ukraine — Baldwin’s Trump said that it had, in fact, proven his innocence.
“I can’t really hear you that good because of this lousy chopper behind me, but it sounds like you said Sondland’s testimony completely exonerated me and I totally agree,” he said.
“I actually wrote down notes from his testimony that proves my innocence and I used the biggest, fattest, blackest magic marker I could find,” he added. “I love black magic markers, by the way, I know most people use Sharpies, they smell like licorice.”
When asked to give specifics, Trump looks at his notes and says “I said to Sondland, ‘I want nothing, no quid pro quo, bro,’ — see, it’s right here in black licorice, case closed, okay?”
The jokes about the notes refer to an actual notepad that Trump held while talking to reporters this week, in which he wrote in large letters: “I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO. TELL ZELLINSKY TO DO THE RIGHT THING. THIS IS THE FINAL WORD FROM THE PRES OF THE U.S.”
When reporters ask Baldwin’s Trump about his relationship with Sondland and note that Trump personally appointed him to his position after he donated $1 million to Trump’s campaign, Trump tries to downplay the relationship.
“Well I know him, but I don’t know him know him. I never, like, met him in person,” Baldwin’s Trump says. (The real Trump told reporters something similar; despite Sondland testifying he’s talked to Trump at least 20 times, the president said, “This is not a man I know well.”)
Then Sondland, played by comedian Will Ferrell, wanders onto the lawn and bumps into Trump.
“It’s so great to finally meet you for the first time, by the way,” Trump says, after they stand next to each other awkwardly.
Ferrell’s Sondland replies, “Oh, right, right, right. Keep the quid pro quo on the low-low. Got it!”
As Trump tries to board the helicopter, Ferrell’s Sondland stands in the way and insists on talking.
“Hang on, I just want to go on the record and say, you guys need to lay off my boy, everybody loves his ass: Ukraine, Russia, they’ll do anything for this man,” he says, adding, “I know, I asked.”
Trump then tries to regain control of the conversation. “In conclusion, no quid pro quo — ” before Sondland steps in again.
“Oh, there definitely was,” Sondland says with a smile.
Later in the show, SNL parodied one of the other major political events of the last week — the fifth Democratic presidential debate — in a sketch that roasted each candidate’s debate persona.
“I got Mom-hosting Thanksgiving energy — I’m a little overwhelmed because I thought 10 people were coming and now there’s 30 million,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was played by Kate McKinnon.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, played by Larry David, thanks supporters for their well-wishes regarding his health and proudly announces himself as the “first heart attack patient to show up to the emergency room in a city bus.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, played by Woody Harrelson, admits that his verbal missteps are a problem. During the actual debate, he tripped over his words a number of times and chose his words poorly on occasion, like when he spoke about ending violence against women by “punching at it and punching at it.”
On SNL, Harrelson’s Biden addressed this by saying, “I just want everyone to know, America, I see you, and I see the faces you all make when I talk, you’re scared, scared I’ll say something off-color, or even worse, on color,” and adding, “What I want you to know is you should be scared, because I’m always one second away from calling Cory Booker ‘Barack.’”
Tulsi Gabbard, played by Cecily Strong, is described as “tonight’s villain” by a debate moderator and embraces the role.
“I want you to know that I smell your fear and it makes me stronger,” she says. “I’m wearing the white suit of your fallen hero, Hillary Clinton. Now fight me, cowards.”