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Comedian John Mulaney’s Secret Service file sheds light on probe after 'Saturday Night Live' joke

Joked about Julius Caesar being stabbed to death: "That’d be an interesting thing if we brought that back now."

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John Mulaney
John Mulaney
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Updated: January 20, 2021 - 12:35pm

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When comedian John Mulaney hosted "Saturday Night Live" on February 29, 2020, he made a joke about President Trump that caught the attention of the Secret Service, charged with protecting the president.

In his opening monologue, Mulaney said: "Leap Year began in the year 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar. This is true. He started the Leap Year in order to correct the calendar, and we still do it to this day. Another thing that happened under Julius Caesar was he was such a powerful maniac that all the senators grabbed knives and they stabbed him to death. That'd be an interesting thing if we brought that back now," Mulaney said.

Then he added: "I asked my lawyer if I could make that joke and he said, 'Lemme call another lawyer.' And that lawyer said yes."

The joke prompted an investigation by the Secret Service, and the Associated Press recently got more documents after filing a Freedom Of Information Act request.

"On 3/1/2020, the following was discovered gaining considerable attention," reads the report about Mulaney's joke. "Although no direct threats were made, due to the popularity, it is likely concerned citizens will report this. The comedian/actor John Delaney made inappropriate statements regarding President Trump on 'Saturday Night Live' broadcast on 2/29/20."

The Secret Service also noted that Mulaney made another joke.

"I don't dwell on politics, but I dislike the Founding Fathers immensely," he said. "I hate when people are like, 'God has never created such a great group of men than the Founding Fathers.' Yeah, the '92 Bulls. ... That's a perfect metaphor for the United States. When I was a boy, the United States was like Michael Jordan in 1992. Now the United States is like Michael Jordan now."

Two days after Mulaney's appearance, law enforcement officials contacted Thomas McCarthy, the global chief security officer and senior vice president at NBC Universal to "express the agency's desire to discuss the aforementioned incident with attorneys for Mulaney."

The Secret Service file includes a photocopy of an article from Breitbart headlined, "SNL: John Mulaney Jokes that Senators Should Stab Trump Like Julius Caesar."

The investigation into Mulaney was opened in March and closed in December, five days after the comedian talked about the situation on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

"I guess they opened a file on me because of the joke, and I have to say — am I stoked there's a file open on me? Absolutely. Did I enjoy it in the moment? Not so much," Mulaney said on the show. "But 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." 

Mulaney noted that the Secret Service interviewer was "nice" and ultimately "cleared" him of any wrongdoing.

"So they said, 'Now is there anything else we should know about?' And I was like, 'What do you mean?' And they were like, 'Anything else?' And I was like, 'Do you mean like anything bad I've done?' And they were like, 'We don't mean anything bad you've done,'" he said, later adding: "I said, 'No.' They're like, 'You don't have any postings about Donald Trump anywhere online that we would find? Rants or manifestos?'"

"I said no, I'm not, I have bad writing habits. I could never pound out a manifesto. And I said I have been making jokes about him since 2007. So, I've been making fun of him for, you know, 13 years, there's that, and they said, 'OK, well if it's jokes.'"

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