One thing we know by now is that the government doesn't have a sense of humor when it comes to jokes about the president of the United States. Comedian John Mulaney found that out the hard way after being probed by the Secret Service. While hosting "Saturday Night Live" in February 2020, the two-time Emmy winner made a joke about how Julius Caesar was killed. He didn't name President Trump in the joke, but John certainly seemed to reference him — at least that's what the government thought. "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," John told late night host Jimmy Kimmel on Dec. 1, 2020, after it was deemed he was not a threat. "But the person vetting me was very understanding that the joke had nothing to do with Donald Trump. It was an elliptical reference to him. I didn't say anything about him." Click through to see what other celebrities have been probed by the federal government.
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In early 2020, there was an unfounded rumor that Iran placed an $80 million bounty on President Trump after a United States airstrike that killed one of the country's top military generals. George Lopez, who's not fan of Trump, joked on social media, "We'll do it for half." Conservatives were incensed, and the joke caught the attention of the Secret Service. "When the Secret Service came to my house, I said, 'You took it as a threat. I took it as an estimate,'" he says."They had everything that I ever said about him on social media. And I said, 'Now that you're standing in front of me, I'm going to tell you not all of it was funny.'" On his Netflix special titled "We'll do it for half," George said, "Something I always perceived would be humorous is now, in this climate, considered a threat."
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A spokesman for the Secret Service confirmed that it opened an investigation into Madonna after the Women's March on Washington in January 2017. At the time, Madonna was denouncing Donald Trump's election. "Yes, I'm angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House," she said. "But I know that this won't change anything. We cannot fall into despair … I choose love."
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In 2017, Kathy Griffin did a photo shoot in which she posed with a faux decapitated head of President Donald Trump. She got multiple death threats and lost several gigs. She was also the target of a Secret Service investigation. She apologized and said the picture wasn't intended as a threat. Kathy feels that sexism played a role in the fallout. "This is a woman thing," she said. "I'm just gonna come out and say it." Trump, his wife and his children all slammed Kathy afterward, prompting her to label the POTUS as a "bully." She said, "A sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the First Lady are personally, I feel … trying to ruin my life forever." Kathy's attorney said Trump was "using the power of the federal government against" the comedian, calling the situation "outrageous and unprecedented."
Rocker Ted Nuget found himself meeting with the Secret Service in 2012 after sharing his controversial views about then President Barack Obama. At a National Rifle Association convention while championing GOP nominee Mitt Romney for President, Ted said, "We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November." He added that he will "either be dead or in jail by this time next year" if Obama was re-elected (he was). A week later, Ted met with the Service. "The Secret Service interview of Ted Nugent has also been completed. The issue has been resolved," an agency spokesman said. "The Secret Service does not anticipate any further action."
Former Creed frontman Scott Stapp caught the attention of the Secret Service after a 911 phone call from his wife in 2014. Scott, she said, was in the midst of a psychotic episode and felt that he was supposed to kill President Barack Obama. "He thinks he's part of the CIA. He thinks they're trying to kill him and he has a bunch of paperwork in his backpack that [says] he's a CIA agent and he was supposed to assassinate Obama," she said during the call.
Just a few months after President Donald Trump took office, Snoop Dogg released a music video that shows the rapper shooting a clown dressed as the POTUS with a toy gun. Snoop didn't hide who he was referring to in the video for "Lavender" when the clown-faced President's name was "Ronald Klump." Afterward, the Secret Service said it was "aware of" of the video. He later stood over a body, perceived to be that of Trump, on the cover of his new EP titled, "Make America Crip Again." He eventually changed the cover art.
In 2003, Eminem's song "We As Americans" was leaked. The lyrics said, "I don't rap for dead presidents / I'd rather see the president dead / It's never been said / But I set precedents." In the following days, CNN reported the that Secret Service was aware of the song and was investigating.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had files and files on Lucille Ball because she was apparently thought of as a communist. According to The Washington Post, the iconic actress told the House Un-American Activities Committee that she registered as a Communist in 1936, but claimed she only did so because of her grandfather. She was adamant that she was never an actual active member of the Communist party.
Anna Nicole Smith in a murder-for-hire plot? That's what the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into in 2000 and 2001. The Guardian said the Playboy model was being probed for a plot against the son of her late husband J. Howard Marshall. She denied it and the investigation against her was eventually dropped due to a lack of evidence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation may have been Beatles fans, but they were no fan of John Lennon's activism against the Vietnam War. The bureau had pages of documents (reportedly 300) pertaining to the singer. In fact, because of his thoughts and arguments to vote out certain lawmakers, the government threatened to deport him back to England and nearly took away his visa. The deportation case was closed when President Nixon resigned from office.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation looking into Charlie Chaplin for decades to determine if he was a communist. In all those years, they found nothing.
You can still go into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's website and look at its unclassified (but heavily redacted) file on John Denver. The singer was being investigated in 1990 for being "a narcotics user," the 33-page record claims.
N.W.A.'s protest anthem, "F— tha police" angered basically everyone in law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Secret Service. In 1989, the FBI sent a letter to the group to make the members aware of its position. Many felt the letter was an attempt to suppress free speech. The group had Don Edwards, a Democratic congressman from California, in its corner. He said, "The FBI should stay out of the business of censorship."
Rock Hudson didn't do anything wrong, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation did an investigation into him anyway in 1966. In the 34-page file on the actor, it reported he had "homosexual tendencies."