Senate Republicans quashed the idea of calling witnesses or introducing new evidence in President Trump’s impeachment trial last week. It was a result that disappointed many; in fact, polling showed the majority of Americans wanted witnesses to be called.
Saturday Night Live responded to that disappointment with its cold open this week, which featured “The Trial You Wish Had Happened.”
Kenan Thompson starred as Judge Mathis, who kicks Mikey Day’s Chief Justice John Roberts off the bench, telling him, “This court needs a real judge who got some big brass ones under his skirt.”
Entering the courtroom next was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, played by Beck Bennett, who declares he’s there to “remind the American people that all men are innocent after proven guilty.”
Next, Thompson calls Sen. Lindsey Graham, played by Kate McKinnon, to deliver the president’s defense.
McKinnon’s Graham quickly makes it clear he believes his reelection “ain’t going to happen unless I kiss Mr. Trump’s grits and tickle his biscuits, and that’s why I do declare that Mr. Trump is innocent.”
Following the Graham statement, Thompson’s Mathis says he’s calling witnesses, “because that’s how a damn trial works.”
First up is Cecily Strong as John Bolton, who expresses deep concern over the president’s behavior.
When Thompson’s Mathis asks why Bolton was only coming forward with those revelations now, Strong replies, “Because I’m a messy bitch who loves drama,” before working in a pitch for his new book: “It’s called Harry Potter and the Room Where It Happened!”
Bennett’s McConnell objects to Bolton as a witness, and asks to call Hunter Biden to the stand.
“Oh you know I’m calling Hunter Biden, too. What do you think, I hate hilarious witnesses?” Thompson’s Mathis asks.
Biden, played by Pete Davidson, enters the courtroom on a hoverboard while vaping, telling the court he has no real connection to the allegations Trump faces.
“I’ve been selling Biden steaks from my office at the top of Biden Tower,” Davidson’s Biden says, “And letting foreign leaders stay at Biden-a-Largo. Oh no wait, that’s the president’s sons. Ya burnt!”
Alec Baldwin, playing Trump, enters the courtroom next, bent over a walker in a manner reminiscent of Harvey Weinstein’s recent court appearances.
“Your honor I’m a very sick old man,” he says. “How could I withhold aid from the Ukraine? I can barely get around the house.”
But Thompson’s Mathis doesn’t buy it. “President Trump, are you trying to Weinstein me right now?” Thompson’s Mathis asks.
“In what sense? Because Harvey and I overlap in a few areas,” he responds, laying out the core of his defense: “I’m guilty, but it ain’t no thing.”
Although satirical, the defense actually hews closely to the conclusions of many real-life senators.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said last week that Trump’s actions were inappropriate, but that voters, not the Senate, should decide whether he’s removed from office. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) went one step further, saying that the president’s actions were impeachable, that he was guilty of the charges, but that he shouldn’t be removed. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse told reporters last week that Alexander’s argument speaks to the position of many Republican senators.
In closing, Baldwin’s Trump expresses no remorse for his actions, or for how the trial proceeded, telling the audience, “What I’ve learned from this trial is that clearly nothing I do or say has any consequence.”
And he adds that the trial also taught him a valuable lesson: That McConnell is his “best friend,” a proclamation that prompts Bennett to break into a song asking, “What have I done?”