Late Night Tackles the Trump Administration
June 14, 2019

President Trump just spent 30 hours with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, and "you're not going to believe this, he said some crazy stuff," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. Notably, after two years of yelling "no collusion," Trump said he'd happily collude with a foreign government. "He's incredible, he honestly doesn't seem to know what collusion is," Kimmel said. "All he knows is he didn't do it, but he would do it! Because why not? Who cares what the guy he hired to be the head of the FBI thinks about it?"

"Today was one of the worst days, P.R.-wise, in quite some time for Team Trump, which makes me wonder about the timing of this announcement," Kimmel said, reading Trump's tweet about White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepping down at the end of June. "She's going home to be a professional skateboarder. That's true — or at least it's as true as everything she said while she was working at the White House." Not that she seems sad to leave, he said. When Trump gave her a public sendoff, she never looked "so happy before. She is literally Hucka-beaming with joy at the thought of leaving." Kimmel showed a short retrospective "to reflect and pay tribute to all the Hucka-B.S. she gave us" over her "two wonderful years" as press secretary.

Yes, "White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is quitting," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "And we know that this is true because she's denied it. But this news isn't that surprising because you realize she stopped giving press conferences months ago. So it's just quitting what she already wasn't doing. She's essentially quit being press secretary the same way Trump quit CrossFit."

"In a statement, Sanders said nothing, as usual," Jimmy Fallon said at The Tonight Show. "When reporters asked the president who his next press secretary would be, he was like, 'Twitter.'" Peter Weber

April 9, 2019

Before President Trump fired the head of the Secret Service on Monday, he reportedly mocked his appearance, calling him "Dumbo" behind his back. That's "super gangster," because "this is the person protecting your life," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. But the big news is Trump pushing out his Homeland Security secretary.

Yes, "Kirstjen Nielsen, the woman responsible for Trump's border enforcement, has been deported out of the White House," Noah said. And she's leaving the Trump administration "with her reputation in tatters. Remember, she was the face of the Trump administration's family separation policy, where kids were split from their parents and kept in cages. So basically, the only job she can get now is working for R. Kelly."

The crazy part is that "the 'kids in cages' woman" was apparently ousted "for being 'too nice,'" Noah said. "That's like firing a cat for not displaying its anus enough." He wasn't totally unsympathetic, though: "Trump would call her early in the morning just to yell about the border? Do you know how horrible that must have been? Think about it: We're all traumatized by Trump's tweets at 5 a.m. Now imagine if the tweets came into your bedroom every morning."

The Late Show had no sympathy for Nielsen, and showed it with a display of Nielsen-centric sympathy cards.

Stephen Colbert joked that Nielsen was probably "leaving to spend more time separating her family," adding that her exit is "not a total shock," because "reportedly, for weeks Nielsen has felt 'in limbo' — limbo is the right word here, because we've all been watching just how low she can go." Colbert may not have been sympathetic but he was a little surprised that Trump thought her a softie: "Sure, she puts kids in cages, but Trump was upset because Nielsen hasn't enacted stricter immigration rules. So, he just needs someone who can be crueler to children than Kirstjen Nielsen. Get ready for Secretary of Homeland Security Pennywise." Watch below. Peter Weber

April 3, 2019

Before the House Oversight Committee voted Tuesday to subpoena the White House for interviews and records pertaining to its security clearance practices, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) explained the importance of getting answers.

White House security clearance staffer Tricia Newbold told the committee that President Trump and his team approved security clearances for at least 25 officials deemed security risks, and Ocasio-Cortez also noted that Jared Kushner has reportedly communicated with world leaders via WhatsApp. "Every day that we go on without getting to the bottom of this matter is a day that we are putting hundreds if not potentially thousands of Americans at risk," AOC said. "I mean, really, what is next, putting nuclear codes in Instagram DMs? This is ridiculous."

"Well, look at that, the Trump administration being careless with national secrets," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "When I heard this story first, I thought it's actually great that everyone in the White House is getting a security clearance," so they can know if Trump is just making stuff up, he said. "Because Trump might say he got his intel from the CIA, but it could also be from a random tweet. He'd just be like, 'I've got top secret information that AOC stands for America On Cocaine — that's her plan, folks.'" The details changed his mind.

If anybody gifted a security clearance has "a criminal or an embarrassing secret, you could be blackmailed by a foreign government, and then you have to do whatever they say," Noah noted. Of course, "Trump and his people haven't been serious about national security from the beginning, right? Trump makes phone calls on an unsecured line. He's the same guy who told the Russians Israeli secrets that compromised anti-terror efforts. ... But overriding security clearances might be the worst transgression yet — which is probably why Trump lied about doing it."

"Maybe the worst part of this whole thing," though, is that the White House is retaliating against Newbold "like a bunch of middle school bullies," Noah said. Watch his solution below. Peter Weber

April 2, 2019

If you don't have your security clearance yet, "you should apply, because evidently [President] Trump is handing those things out like very suspicious candy," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. A White House whistleblower has told Congress that Trump's White House has overridden the security clearance denials of at least 25 officials. "Look, there's a reason you don't just give America's secrets to someone who was denied security clearance," he said. "Same reason if you go to buy a car, you check the Carfax: 'Huh, 2007 Nissan Sentra, 100,000 miles, and owes $10 million to Russian oligarchs. I don't think so.'"

"Career White House employee Tricia Newbold testified in Congress that the original denials were for a range of disqualifying issues, including foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct — which, fun fact, is also the motto on the bottom of the Trump family crest," Colbert joked. "It sounds classier in Latin."

There are at least "two current senior White House officials on the list, though their names were not disclosed, Colbert said, making a guess. "And now the House Oversight Committee's requesting security clearance documents on nine individuals," including vanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who got a security clearance despite "his years of using his upper lip to smuggle exotic pets," he joked. You can watch that fetching graphic and learn about the retaliation Newbold has faced at work below. Peter Weber

December 13, 2018

President Trump "is still searching for a new chief of staff," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Like any job working for Trump it comes with dental, paid sick leave, and free government housing for five to 10 years." The White House said Tuesday that current Chief of Staff John Kelly will stay on through "at least Jan. 2" to ensure "a very peaceful and pragmatic transition." Colbert translated: "So they fired Kelly, can't find anybody else, make him stay to train his successor. It's like saying to your girlfriend, 'Hey, I'm breaking up with you, but I'm going to need you to stay on until at least prom to ensure a peaceful and pragmatic transition to Becky over there.'"

The president keeps getting turned down, like "a reverse Apprentice," but "Trump says he's flooded with résumés for the chief of staff job" and is considering 10-12 contenders, Colbert noted. One reason filling the job is so hard is that the candidate apparently has to meet the approval of Jared and Ivanka, "so congratulations to new Chief of Staff Mohammed bin Salman," he deadpanned. Trump told Reuters his chief of staff criteria, and Colbert suggested "he's really looking for his soul mate, him." He tried to decipher a cryptic quote from Trump about Hillary Clinton and money.

Trump also told Reuters that he's not worried about impeachment because "I think the people would revolt if that happened." Colbert found that plausible. "Yes, it's true: The people would take to the streets, vandalizing champagne bottles, grinning with rage, blocking traffic with their protest dancing. It would be absolute pandemonium." He demonstrated. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

The Late Show found a reason for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to smile, finally.

Yes, "the White House right now is going through yet another big shakeup," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. President Trump nominated William Barr to be attorney general — "I saw the headline 'Trump Nominates Barr,' I thought he picked Roseanne," Kimmel joked — and Kelly is out in January. "The president's having a hard time finding someone to replace him," Kimmel said. "It's a tough situation: How do you convince a rat to jump on a sinking ship? It's against their nature."

Kimmel revisited some Trump tweets — when he mocked former President Barack Obama for having three chiefs of staff in three years, when he attacked ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as "dumb as a rock," and when he praised him.

But Kimmel dwelled on Trump's early-morning Monday tweet about "No Smocking Gun" despite digging by "Democrats" and ex-FBI Director James Comey. "Typos aside, this is some argument, because Donald Trump is defending himself by reminding us about the hush money he paid to a porn star and a centerfold, which he calls a 'private transaction,'" Kimmel said. "He's clearly panicked right now — I would not want to be a bucket of KFC in Washington tonight. And what about the 'Smocking Gun'? This isn't the first time he's tweeted the word 'smocking.'" For the good of the nation, Kimmel gave Trump a quick lesson about "ck" words versus "ke" words, like "jock" versus "joke."

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert dug a little deeper into Comey's testimony before House Republicans — the proximate trigger for Trump's "Smocking Gun" tweet — and then dissected the tweet. "Now some say that's a typo," he said, "but today at a fiery briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Farblah defended the president's tweet." And in the fake press conference, "smocking" suddenly made sense. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

Stephen Colbert began Monday's Late Show by congratulating outgoing White House Chief of Staff on his imminent departure and for "a job, well, done." President Trump, who had a tense relationship with Kelly from the start and promptly broke his promise to let Kelly break the news of his departure, "already had Kelly's replacement picked out," Colbert noted. But his pick Nick Ayers, turned him down, "and it's not just Ayers — nobody seems to want this job."

"So the president is in desperate need of a chief of staff, and he's got no viable candidates, which is why I'd like to take this opportunity to officially throw my hat in the ring," Colbert offered. "Mr. President, I, Stephen Colbert, am your next White House chief of staff." He said he wouldn't be able to control Trump or bring order to the chaotic West Wing, and he will fight with Trump and disagree with his policies, "but I believe in my heart of hearts that this could be fun for me," Colbert said. "I mean, who would pass up the chance to spend 10 minutes on the deck of the Titanic while it's sinking?"

"I think it's fair to say that being Trump's chief of staff did not work out well for John Kelly," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Because remember, he came into the job known as a respected four-star general, and now he's leaving the job known as the guy who fired Omarosa." In fact, there's a good reason "nobody wants this job," he said. "We all know by now what happens if you work for Trump. At some point you're going to lose your credibility, and then you spend every day being insulted by a 72-year-old 5-year-old. Who would want that? So many Americans don't want this job, Trump might have to let a Mexican do it." Except Michael Kosta volunteered, too. Watch below. Peter Weber

November 15, 2018

President Trump is reportedly angry that his aides didn't warn him skipping a Veterans Day memorial at an American military cemetery in France would make him look bad, and he's under fire for his promotion of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "We're learning some interesting stuff about Whitaker's past," including his judicial nomination criteria, as outlined during his 2014 unsuccessful run for a Senate seat in Iowa.

"In the opinion of the current attorney general of the United States, if you're not a Christian, you won't be a good judge," Colbert summarized. "But it's right there in the Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, yada, yada, yada, what would Jesus do?" Whitaker is also apparently "steeped" in time travel and Bigfoot. "Before we go any further, I just want to say that there's serious debate over whether Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional and might obstruct justice," Colbert said, "but tonight, daddy don't give a damn — I want to talk about time travel and Bigfoot man."

This all had to do with the patent marketing company Whitaker worked for (before the FTC shut it down for scamming investors out of $26 million), and Colbert appeared more than happy to run through the details — which, to be fair, are pretty incredible — and tie it all together.

Seth Meyers had some fake facts about Whitaker at Late Night — and they still somehow look tame compared to reality.

Colbert briefly reprised his "Squatch'd" gag during his rundown of Trump's bizarre list of Medal of Freedom recipients, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads