SNL Debuts New Donald Trump: Does James Austin Johnson Get Your Vote?

Donald Trump returned to Saturday Night Live for the first time this season –though ex-POTUS impression duties have been taken over by new cast member James Austin Johnson (who also tackles President Biden for the show).

The cold open featured the return of Cecily Strong’s Jeanine Pirro and she brings Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (Pete Davidson) on as her first guest. Rodgers has been in hot water this week when it was revealed he hasn’t been vaccinated – despite indicating to the media he had. This leads to him talking about his 7-1 record, “Meaning, of the eight people I’ve infected, seven are fine.”

Alex Moffat then comes on as Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, who ran on an anti-Critical Race Theory platform. He brings on a concerned mother (Heidi Gardner), who has a list of books she wants banned — including Holes, because it sounds too sexual, and The Great Gatsby because of “too much jazz.”

The other reason Youngkin was in the news, however, is because he managed to win over a lot of Trump voters while still keeping the former president at arm’s length. This tees up Johnson as Trump, who dominates the remainder of the sketch with a pair of stream-of-consciousness rants hilariously bullet-pointed on the side of the screen. If you ever wondered how his logic could get him from Chris Pratt to tomatoes to Virginia… well, now you have an infographic that covers it.

Johnson was added to the cast mainly on his strength as an impressionist. Right out of the gate, his Trump is not his strongest performance (there are numerous videos on Twitter and YouTube demonstrating his actual mastery of the voice/cadence), but it grows stronger as the sketch progresses and it’s very distinct from Alec Baldwin’s version — which, for reasons, the show might like to distance itself from. Despite no longer being president, it seems likely that the show will need a Trump on call for the foreseeable future.

Watch clips of the sketch below; we will as always update with the complete video once it is made available Sunday morning.

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