For reasons seemingly unknown to anyone, Oxford Union, the legendary nearly 200-year-old British debating society, hosted former Trump campaign manager and CNN ethical timebomb Corey Lewandowski this week. If anything was gained from the event, the University of Oxford students at the forum seemed to get a good laugh out of it.
The first question Lewandowski's asked—"When was America great?"—he does not answer, choosing instead to mumble something about how people used to have "hope" and don't anymore as he shuffles his papers. The interviewer points out it might have been difficult for that hope to extend to black Americans who were enslaved or segregated.
"It's no question that our country has gone through difficult times," Lewandowski responds, which is correctly greeted with laughter from the student audience. "Less than 100 years ago," the former New Hampshire cop and once Congressional staffer says, checking his watch as though to confirm his timeframe, "women didn't have the right to vote."
He continues—yes, this is all real—to say what an amazing thing it is that Hillary Clinton was the first female major party nominee. All of this coming from the former Trump campaign manager who manhandled a female reporter trying to ask Trump a question and refused to apologize.
He also has some fairly crazy things to say about climate change:
I can only tell you that the experts that I have talked to inside the federal government, not in academia, have not provided me compelling evidence that this is happening.
Now, you can tell me that Al Gore has the movie out that shows the polar ice cap is melting and polar bears aren’t going to survive up there anymore, and maybe that’s the case. And Al Gore won a Nobel Prize or sold Al Jazeera, or did something, made a lot of money, grew a beard, I don’t know what he did, but it doesn’t matter to me…. But I think what’s important to this administration is making sure that we don’t have a nuclear holocaust because some terrorist in a rogue place in the Middle East gets a hold of nuclear materials or weapons-grade plutonium because we did a bad deal and decides to launch into the neighbors next door and have an unimaginable impact. And if that means that climate change occurs, we’ll deal with that. [laughter] But I think nuclear war is much more significant.
Other gems: "What about black-on-black violence? It's disgusting." Also, when the interviewer points out Lewandowski is picking out isolated incidents about undocumented immigrants killing Americans as a racist cover to build a wall.
He responds with, "Let me read you some statistics," and blows through some numbers he sources to a Republican Senate committee that sourced their numbers from an often-incorrect, right-wing anti-immigrant "policy center."
During an audience q&a portion, a student criticizes Trump for his rhetoric about the wall as well as hiring Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon. "How do you have so little self-respect that you can stand here and defend a candidate who’s not only a bigot but a liar who doesn’t have the courtesy to follow through?" she asks.
"Here’s what it comes down to: Mexico will pay for the wall, and it’s very simple," Lewandowski responds, to loud laughter from the audience.
The forum inspired protests outside the Union hall, where activists chanted “fascists are not welcome here,” “fuck Donald Trump,” and “no Trump, no KKK, no racist, fascist USA," according to the campus Oxford Student newspaper. The Union has had to disinvite several controversial right-wing guests in the past, including John Tyndall, a British politician with overt ties to Neo-Nazis, and Holocaust denier David Irving.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.