Ben Shapiro debated HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher on Friday in a heated discussion about civility, conservatism, and of course, President Donald Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The conversation began extremely civil as Shapiro explained why he supports some of Trump’s policies and actions in office, citing tax cuts, Iran-Israel Middle Eastern policy, and nominating conservative justices to federal courts.
But the conversation took a turn when Shapiro, in response to a question from Maher, said he would only support Democrats if the “Democratic Party stops being insane.”
“They would actually have to approach something like moderation in terms of policy and also present a face that doesn’t look like people shouting down people at gas stations or entering restaurants and trying to throw them out,” Shapiro explained.
Maher’s only response was to claim that Trump supporters who chanted “lock her up” — in reference to Hillary Clinton — is “a worse abridgment of speech.” The question clearly meant to pin Shapiro in a corner, but he was having none of it.
“Can’t we just say that incivility is bad across the board?” Shapiro said. “Why is that when you’re a Democrat you’re only opposed to incivility when it’s Donald Trump, but suddenly Maxine Waters is ‘Auntie Maxine.’”
“Because Ben, you can’t walk into a room and see an elephant and a mouse and not see which one is bigger,” Maher responded.
“But it’s not an elephant and a mouse — it’s two elephants,” Shapiro hit back. “I needed 600 officers to protect me at [University of California at] Berkley. Yes it’s an elephant and an elephant.”
Shapiro continued, explaining incivility “pre-existed” Trump’s rise to political prominence.
“It came from the vice president when he was saying that Mitt Romney, the cleanest person ever, OK, was the guy who was gonna ‘put y’all back in chains.’ To pretend incivility started with Donald Trump is to fictionalize by the left,” Shapiro said.
The two concluded the conversation by agreeing incivility has become worse in the Trump-era.
The other notable exchange came during a discussion about Russia. Shapiro argued that Trump has taken more action to hurt Russia than his predecessor, Barack Obama, ever did. He explained:
He’s been a lot harsher on Putin than Obama was by the way. Not in terms of his rhetoric, in terms of his actions. He’s armed the people of Ukraine with deadly weaponry, which Obama would not do. Two hundred Russian soldiers were killed in Syria by U.S. forces under Donald Trump, not under Barack Obama. Because it was Barack Obama who said to Dmitry Medvedev saying that he wanted to provide Putin with flexibility in 2012. Crimea was annexed under Barack Obama.
Later, Shapiro asked Maher if he truly believes Trump colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 election. Maher said he did and asked Shapiro why he disagrees.
“I do not because I watched that campaign. I don’t think that Donald Trump could collude with his own left foot,” Shapiro said, adding that if evidence surfaces to show Trump committed wrongdoing, he will be OK with criminal indictments.
“But I’m not going to contribute something to Trump when he’s too ignorant to have done it,” Shapiro explained.
“Well, he’s not too ignorant to be a criminal, Ben. He’s been a criminal his whole life,” Maher responded.
“I don’t know how I became the Trump defender here, but is he a doofus or an evil genius?” Shapiro hit back. “You gotta pick one.”