With just days before the New Hampshire primary, Saturday Night Live returned with James Austin Johnson as Donald Trump, this time talking to the press from the New York courtroom where he’s been attending one of a number of cases keyed up for 2024.
“2024 is going to be a very exciting year. I’m either going to jail, be president, or frankly, The Purge,” Johnson as Trump said, an apparent reference to the movie franchise where all crime is legal for a half-day out of the year.
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In reality, Trump is expected to be in the courtroom Monday, the day before the Granite State primary, as he has been attending the second civil trial brought by E. Jean Carroll. A jury last year already found Trump liable of sexual assault of Carroll, and the latest trial is largely to determine damages.
The proceedings are just a prelude to a year in which Trump faces spending much of the presidential campaign in courthouses, with several criminal trials still scheduled even as his attorneys seek to delay them. So far, Trump has capitalized on the lack of camera access to court proceedings by giving lengthy statements to the media just outside the chambers, essentially running a big chunk of his campaign for the nomination in the halls of justice.
“This is the campaign, folks,” Johnson’s Trump said. “This is all there is — me yelling in courthouse lobby, standing behind a barricade like a Guatemalan family at JFK passenger pickup.”
In the skit, Trump also relished his Iowa caucus blowout, ribbing one of his rivals, Ron DeSantis, for his distant second-place showing. “He went to 99 counties but bitch couldn’t win one,” he said, while nicknaming the Florida governor “Ron DeStupid.” In reality, DeSantis canceled some network morning show appearances scheduled for Sunday, raising speculation that he may drop out, but his campaign says it was a scheduling issue before he returns to New Hampshire.
Johnson’s Trump then went to former rival Vivek Ramaswamy (“Dropped out of the race and has agreed to live in my suit pocket”) and current one Nikki Haley (“She thought I was done — but I am back in a big way. I’m back like Mean Girls.”)
The skit did make a bit of a reference to Haley’s line of attack on Trump today — that there are questions of whether he is mentally fit for office. At a rally on Friday evening, Trump mentioned Haley multiple times when he actually was referring to Nancy Pelosi.
“I am doing very well, cognitively doing great with cognitive,” Trump said in the skit. “I think I’m doing great. With cognitive, I’m more cognitive than ever.”
Johnson’s imitation often is spot on, especially when he drifts into Trump’s streams of consciousness and non-sequiturs, particularly those about random young celebrities. (“Mean Girls. Where’s Lacey Chabert? Left out of remake. So sad.”)
Later in the skit, he referred to the taped footage of him dancing with Jeffrey Epstein. “Boy is that some dark energy,” he said.
But then he claimed that he “wouldn’t be surprised if that footage is fake. Of course, it’s very real, but you have to think, in many ways, it could not be.”
“We’ve seen a lot of success saying things that did not happen,” Johnson’s Trump said. “I think we’ll continue to do that. It’s an innovation I am particularly proud of. Seems to be working very well. But I love this country and it’s traditions. That’s why I’m not doing any debates and barely doing elections.”
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