Robert Mueller held a surprise press conference on Wednesday to announce that if he believed that President Trump did not commit obstruction of justice, he would not not have said so, and similarly, if he determined that President Trump did not not not commit obstruction of justice, he would not not not not have included that information in his report. As per usual, everyone heard what they wanted to hear, odds are pretty good that no one will do the right thing, and Donald Trump seems no closer to not not leaving office. But Trevor Noah figured out a simple way to parse what Mueller was saying: imagining Mueller was discussing sexually transmitted diseases. Here’s Noah’s explanation of Mueller’s statement:
Imagine you were about to have sex with someone and you asked them, “Hey, do you have herpes?” And their response is, “Well, if I had confidence that I did not have herpes, I would have said so.” You’d be like, “Okay, this motherfucker has herpes.” That’s what happened here.
Case closed: Donald Trump obstructed justice and should probably get tested. Here’s Noah’s segment on Mueller:
Although it turns out to be useful in this specific instance to imagine that a Justice Department official is talking about sexually transmitted diseases instead of their purported topic of discussion, please note that this technique has only limited utility as a general approach to understanding Justice Department statements. Take this 1947 testimony before HUAC from J. Edgar Hoover, for example:
Hoover’s claim that Communism is “a condition akin to disease that spreads like an epidemic” and that “a quarantine is necessary to keep it from infecting this nation” doesn’t make any more sense if you imagine he’s talking about a gonorrhea outbreak. So you should definitely not do that.