In the eyes of Saturday Night Live, the Mueller report’s findings this week are reaching the public like an adolescent game of telephone, where the message morphs further and further from the truth each time it’s passed down.
Acclaimed actor Robert De Niro returned to the SNL stage over the weekend to reprise his role as Robert Mueller, alongside Alec Baldwin, who has dutifully satirized Donald Trump since the 2016 presidential campaign. SNL cast member Aidy Bryant rounds out the chain of command as newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr.
The sketch depicts each character narrating their role in the report’s rollout, mocking the lack of nuance and transparency around determining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. First, Mueller reads from his 380-page report. Then Barr whittles down the findings through rose-colored glasses into a four-page summary, which Trump skews in a single tweet.
“I am reading zero pages, but Sean Hannity has read it and he was so excited he texted me an eggplant,” Trump says.
Mueller acknowledges that his office could not reach a definitive conclusion over whether the Trump campaign obstructed justice.
“But I have,” Barr says in response. “And my conclusion is that Trump is as clean as a whistle.”
Then Trump, on hearing the news: “Free at last, free at last!”
Later in the show, SNL imagines reactions to the Mueller report playing out in Russia as President Vladimir Putin meets with top officials at the Kremlin. Putin, portrayed by SNL regular Beck Bennett, plays coy about his dealings with Trump as if the two are romantic partners who have yet to make their relationship status official.
“I think he just likes me,” says Putin. “I can’t figure this guy out. He’s in my head!”
Putin’s generals are not impressed. They are disappointed at the lost opportunity to gloat about their power abroad had Mueller’s report found Trump guilty of collusion. Even a surprise visit from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un shows that global confidence in Putin is shaky.
“Glorious leader says he is upset to learn that Trump is not working for you,” SNL host Sandra Oh, who stars in the TV series Killing Eve, says as Kim’s interpreter for the sketch.
Only when Putin threatens one of his generals with extreme violence for daring to doubt him do his supporters in his room start to come around.
“Well, how about I poison your family, put you in the dog cage, and ship you to Siberia and beat you to death with a metal pipe,” Putin says to the general with a menacing laugh.
It’s enough to get Kim on board.
“Our glorious leader says that’s more like the Putin he knows and loves!” he says.