Comedian and Saturday Night Live alum John Mulaney has never shied away from pushing the envelope when it comes to his brand of comedy. This, however, got him into a bit of hot water last year after he made a joke that was believed to have been about then-President Donald Trump. The comment led the United States Secret Service to launch an investigation into Mulaney and, now, a file has revealed the law enforcement agency’s findings.
For context, John Mulaney made the joke in question during his appearance on Saturday Night Live back in February 2020. The quip referred to Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who was stabbed to death by several senators on the Ides of March:
Another thing that happened under Julius Caesar, he was such a powerful maniac that all the senators grabbed knives, and they stabbed him to death. That would be an interesting thing if we brought that back now.
Just a few days after John Mulaney made the joke the Secret Service contacted NBC Universal’s global chief security officer and senior vice president, Thomas McCarthy and expressed a desire to contact Mulaney’s attorneys. The case was officially opened in March and closed in December. The Associated Press recently obtained a file on the investigation, which found no wrongdoing on the comedian’s part. The file asserted that Mulaney made no direct threats towards Trump.
John Mulaney was relatively candid when discussing the experience with Jimmy Kimmel shortly after the investigation closed. While the situation was unexpected for him, he said the vetting process went well:
The person vetting me was very understanding that the joke had nothing to do with Donald Trump, because it was an elliptical reference to him. I didn’t say anything about him. . . . They were very nice in the interview. In terms of risk assessment, no one who’s ever looked at me has thought I registered above a ‘1.’
This isn’t the first time Saturday Night Live has come under fire for certain jokes. Last year, the show received backlash for making jokes that pertained to Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. And a few years back, Pete Davidson was criticized for making a joke about U.S. congressman Dan Crenshaw. The politician later appeared on the show, during which Davidson apologized for the joke. During his appearance, Crenshaw also made a joke about Davidson’s breakup with singer Ariana Grande.
At this time, we don’t have much more information on the Secret Service’s investigation into John Mulaney but, based on the comedian’s comments, it doesn’t appear to have been too taxing. Still, it’s probably fair to say that he’s glad the investigation is over.
Saturday Night Live is currently on hiatus, but episodes still air at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.