Late Night Tackles Trump versus Mueller
August 10, 2018

President Trump "remains on vacation, but it's a working vacation, because he's still lying," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. According to one tally, Trump told 132 falsehoods last week, or 19 lies a day, almost five times his average, he noted. "Wow, that is impressive! How does he keep up that pace? Does he wear some sort of wrist tracker, the Fibbit?" Trump debuted some big new whoppers, and Colbert ran through some, conceding that with Trump's "tendency to cheat on facts," his lawyers — and Fox News pundits — have a point about him not sitting down to talk with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But Colbert had an idea: "He could not lie."

Since "his lawyers know that's not an option," he added, they are gunning to neuter Mueller by severely limiting the questions he can ask Trump. Colbert offered an analogy: "Look, you can ask my client, Jeffrey Dahmer, about anything you want — other than murder and dinner."

The Late Show dramatized the White House demands for Mueller's questions.

Colbert moved on to the Oscars and Drake's plan to trademark the phrase "God's Plan," not just for his song but also merchandise and a TV game show. "I can't wait for God's Plan the game show," Colbert joked, imagining what that might look like (and feel like: painful). "Still, hard to believe Drake is trying to trademark 'God's Plan,'" he said. "I mean, you have to wonder how the Almighty feels about that." And the Late Show ceiling God came out and told him. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 9, 2018

There were some pretty big elections on Tuesday, including the still-contested special election in Ohio's solidly red 12th congressional district between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "If the vote difference tightens any further, it could trigger an automatic recount under Ohio election law — and under Ohio election law, whoever loses the recount has to go to the Lakers." Tuesday's elections also made history because now a record 11 women are gubernatorial nominees, Kansas Democrats nominated an openly gay Native American first-time candidate for Congress, and Kansas Rep. Ron Estes (R) won his primary challenge against a different Ron Estes. Colbert had a song about that last victory/defeat.

Meanwhile, President Trump may still be on vacation at his golf club in New Jersey, Colbert said, "but he hasn't forgotten about the Mueller investigation," mentioning ending the special counsel's investigation "about 20 times" with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) over golf on Sunday. "You know what they say: Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different restful is the definition of a very stable genius," he said. And then he played some imagined, increasingly bonkers voicemails from Trump to Graham. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 3, 2018

Thursday was Day 3 of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecution of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, and The Late Show celebrated by melding the courtroom sketches of Manafort into A-Ha's breakthrough 1986 video for "Take On Me." If you know the video, this is a treat.

Stephen Colbert began his monologue with another one of Mueller's subjects. "Our commander-in-chief had a hissy fit on Twitter yesterday," he said, "and now we know why he's freaking out. Apparently, Trump's tweetstorm came after learning Mueller wants to ask him about obstruction of justice." Mueller has agreed to limit his questions and accept some written responses, but Trump apparently wants a full interview, against the advice of his lawyers. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, wants Mueller to "put up or shut up," like in poker, and Colbert arched an eyebrow: "Oh, you'd better hope you're not playing poker, because your client can't keep a casino running." He finished with a recap of Manafort's trial and his ostrich- and python-jacket-filled wardrobe, which "looks like if a blind pimp got 100 wishes."

"If you're trying not to seem evil, maybe don't dress up as a snake," Trevor Noah agreed on Thursday's Daily Show. Trump is clearly paying attention to Manafort's trial, and he's also rage-tweeting about Mueller, problematically. "This is so insane: President Trump may have obstructed justice because he's mad about being accused of obstructing justice," Noah said. Trump's legal team doesn't see it that way. "Rudy Giuliani is making it sound like Trump's tweet was just a helpful suggestion, and that Trump is not Jeff Sessions' boss and the most powerful man in the world," Noah said. "It's like Darth Vader telling you, 'You should really consider joining the dark side, but no presh.'" He also deflated the Trump team's arguments that Trump is just "fighting back" and that you can't possibly collude in plain view, only in secret. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 2, 2018

"Well, another day, another presidential tweetnado," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Brace yourself, this one's about the Russia investigation." He poked fun at President Trump's "smocking gun" tweet then read "the worst of Trump's tweets today," in which the president urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to kill Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "Rigged Witch Hunt," more commonly known as the Trump-Russia investigation.

"Donald Trump is telling his attorney general to shut down the investigation of Donald Trump," Colbert pointed out. "Rudy [Giuliani] should tell him that just because he's doing it in public doesn't mean it's not obstruction of justice. Public urination is still urination!" Trump is probably nervous about former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's ongoing trial, he added, but he had a funny way of showing it: "Wow, Trump really knows how to make you seem sympathetic: Compare you to America's sweetheart, Al Capone — who, I remind you, died on an inescapable prison island, of syphilis."

On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel had a good laugh about Trump's "smocking gun" typo, demonstrating a prototype on sidekick Guillermo and turning Trump's penchant for misspelling into an ad for an enticing board game.

Late Night's Seth Meyers focused on how most Republicans are shrugging off Trump's apparent public obstruction of justice. And he had some theories. "Republicans are willing to ignore whatever Trump does ... as long as he cuts their taxes," he said. "Trump and his allies know that time is running short — Manafort's trial is underway, Michael Cohen's turning on them, and that's why they're raiding the government's coffers for as much as they can, while they can. Because some of them might be headed to jail soon."

Meyers also juxtaposed Trump's belief that you need to show photo ID to buy groceries with his Congress-free plan to hand a $100 billion tax cut to super-wealthy investors, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

August 1, 2018

Stephen Colbert kicked off Tuesday's Late Show with the trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman. "I feel like it's Christmas morning, because all year long, Robert Mueller and his team of legal elves have been busy in their workshop, making all the indictments for all the bad little boys and girls — and the magical day we've all been waiting for is finally here." Colbert ran through the highlights of the first day of Manafort's trial, noting he has reason to be worried. But "one person who's apparently not worried about Robert Mueller's investigation is Donald Trump," he said.

For more than a year, Trump's "catchphrase has been 'no collusion,'" Colbert said. "It's like his 'aloha' — it means both 'hello' and 'I'm guilty.'" But Trump and his team "have recently rebranded, and are using a new phrase that Trump tweeted out this morning: 'Collusion is not a crime,'" he added. "Trump's completely flipped the script on this collusion thing. What's next? He's gonna go from 'This is a witch hunt!' to 'Okay, but I'm good witch, like Glinda, the hot one from The Wizard of Oz.'"

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon tackled the collusion question in character as Trump, anchoring the Trump News Network. "This morning I tweeted, 'Collusion is not a crime,' and it worked," he said. "Apparently, if you say something's not a crime, then it's not a crime." Fallon's Trump listed some examples, explained why Rudy Giuliani is doing a great job, and moved on to other news. Things got a little weird with the "Bigfoot erotica" story out of Virginia, and you can watch that and the rest of the Fake Newscast below. Peter Weber

July 31, 2018

Last week, President Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen revealed that Trump knew about and approved a meeting his son Donald Trump Jr. and campaign officials had with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton. "Wow, that is shocking information — Donald Trump had an actual in-person conversation with one of his sons," Trevor Noah joked on Monday's Daily Show. "Also, this Russia thing is pretty big, I guess. Because if they can prove that Trump knew that his campaign was meeting with the Russians, it would go a long way toward proving collusion."

Trump needed some damage control on the collusion front, so "Rudy Giuliani was once again unleashed upon the world," Noah said. "But the thing about Rudy is, just when you think he's backed into a corner, he finds an even tighter corner."

So "Giuliani moved the goal posts even further, arguing that even if collusion did happen, it's not a crime," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "Seriously, this argument's insane. Just because Trump didn't do the hacking doesn't mean he's not complicit in the crime. And besides, Trump has already been very clear about who he thinks did the hacking ... It was a guy in New Jersey who's fat." So ...

"Wow, they are really moving the goal posts on this," Stephen Colbert agreed on Monday's Late Show. "What's next? 'Okay, collusion's a crime, but it's just a little crime.' Then it will be: 'Since when are crimes illegal?'"

"They've already come up with the plot for the next Mission: Impossible — getting Rudy Giuliani to stop talking," Jimmy Fallon joked on The Tonight Show. After "he said that 'collusion isn't illegal,' even Trump was, like, 'Why can't this guy think before he speaks?'" Watch below. Peter Weber

July 13, 2018

Thursday's "parliamentary smackdown" in the House Judiciary and Oversight committees pitted Republicans against FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose text messages with lover Lisa Page criticizing President Trump have put him in the crosshairs of Trump and his allies, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. He read a few of those critical texts. His audience cheered. But "Republicans see these texts as proof of a vast conspiracy within the FBI to stop Donald Trump from being elected president, and here's how devious and how deep they went," Colbert said: "In order to keep it a secret, they let him get elected president."

In Thursday's circus-like hearing, "Strzok came out swinging," Colbert said, "but then the grilling began." And when Strzok, heeding instructions from FBI lawyers, declined to answer some GOP questions about the Trump-Russia investigation, "all rhetorical hell broke loose." He played a clip then enthusiastically re-enacted it, taking some colorful liberties. "This is the first time I've seen Congress as frustrated with Congress as we are," he said, playing another showdown. But things really went off the rails when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) snidely brought up Strzok's wife.

Colbert wrapped things up: "So it looks like what happened here is that Congress hauled in an FBI agent in an effort to undermine the integrity of law enforcement and protect the president from being investigated for potentially criminal acts." He underscored that point by playing Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) reading one of Strzok's texts. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 6, 2018

Last year, Donald Trump Jr. released a statement saying, falsely, that the June 2016 meeting he agreed to in Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton was about adoption. President "Trump clearly wrote that statement for his son — you knew as soon as you read it — but if that were true, that would be obstruction of justice," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, "so the president and his team have repeatedly denied having anything to do with it" — until his lawyers recently admitted that Trump did dictate the statement.

"Of course he did!" Colbert said. "That letter could not have been more 'by Donald Trump' if it had been written in bronzer on the back of a KFC bucket. Because — and here's the thing you can't forget — everything you think happened with Donald Trump is always exactly what happened. Anyone who's surprised to find out he's lying probably watches Titanic going, 'Oooh, I hope that boat's going to be okay.'" So Trump lied to the public, and so did his lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had a novel reason the president intervened, Colbert said. "Yes, advice on hiding your crimes from the feds is what any father would do — I'm sorry, that's what any godfather would do."

Paul Manafort, who was also at the Trump Tower meeting, is now "under house arrest on 23 counts of fraud and conspiracy in two different states," Colbert said. But Manafort may end up going to jail because, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he tried to tamper with witnesses. "Manafort used an encrypted messaging app to contact one of them, saying, 'We should talk,'" Colbert said. "He should have gone with the classic: 'u up? ... for lying to Robert Mueller?' And the plan would have worked except for one tiny flaw: The witness immediately gave the texts to the FBI." Watch below. Peter Weber

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