Late Night Tackles President Trump

President Trump was in Texas on Monday to rally for the man he used to call "Lyin' Ted" Cruz. But that was then, in 2016. "Trump is so close to Cruz now, he's even pretending to unveil a new nickname for him," Stephen Colbert laughed on Monday's Late Show. "'Beautiful Ted'? Really? Somewhere, Ted Nugent is weeping over his assault rifle. 'I thought I was Beautiful Ted. Wango saddo.'

"And there's more random cruelty from the Trump administration coming down the pike," Colbert said. "This time they spun the Wheel of Discrimination and they landed on transgender." The Trump administration says its proposed change, to recognize people only by their birth genitalia, rests "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science." Colbert threw up his hands: "Oh, now you care about science! Wow, how convenient." He poked a little fun at himself and his Lord of the Rings obsession: "Gender is clearly a spectrum, okay? We know this. For instance, I identify as a man, but it's a little fluid. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and repairing boats; then again, my favorite book is about elves and jewelry."

Colbert ended on the "obvious and shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey," and he wasn't buying Saudi Arabia's belated story that their agents killed Khashaoggi accidentally, in a spontaneous brawl. "Saudi Arabia's excuses are so lame that they're being doubted by even the most gullible people, like Donald Trump," he said. But even as he shows some skepticism of the Saudi version of events, Trump insists he doesn't want to cancel weapons deals with Saudi Arabia "because he's protecting America's jobs," Colbert said. "How many jobs? You won't believe how many." Literally, Trump's numbers are unbelievable. Says who? "As Trump put it, 'fake news' from the 'Failing White House,'" Colbert surmised. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 3, 2018

"Donald Trump has always sold himself as something of a self-made man who built an empire out of nothing but a dream and hard work, and a loan from his dad," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. But it turns out even that "small loan of $1 million" — which, Colbert joked, is "barely enough to silence eight porn stars" — was just a tiny fraction of the $413 million Trump got from his father over the years, according to a blockbuster New York Times investigation. "In order to hide the money from the IRS — which is a crime — Fred Trump had been funneling money to his children for years," he recounted, and Donald Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today's dollars by the time he turned 3.

"So let me get this straight," Colbert said. "At one point, Donald Trump was an extraordinarily wealthy toddler, and today — he is still that."

"You're not going to believe this," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live, but "Donald Trump isn't a self-made millionaire after all." His audience reacted accordingly. "He's not just a con man," he added, pointing to Trump's 3-year-old allowance, "he was a con baby first. He was a millionaire, Donald Trump — on his own — by the time he was 8 years old. But he earned that money — he ate every piece of broccoli on his plate." And he was reportedly getting millions of dollars a year from his dad through his 50s, Kimmel said.

Trump's lawyer called the Times' more serious allegations of tax fraud and evasion "false" and "extremely inaccurate," and Kimmel had an idea: "Gee, if there only was a way to know for sure, maybe some sort of a tax return that could be released or something to clear this all up?"

You can learn more about the Times report from one of the reporters who broke the story, in the CNN interview below. Peter Weber

September 27, 2018

Wednesday's top story is, sadly, not about a moth drinking a bird's tears — it's still Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, Stephen Colbert lamented on Wednesday's Late Show. "Let me do this as quickly as I can, because it's important, but we have to get to the president's press conference, because it's unbelievable." A woman named Julie Swetnick came forward Wednesday to swear that Kavanaugh attended at least 10 parties in high school where he drunkenly abused girls. "Do we want someone on the Supreme Court who treated women this way, even in high school?" Colbert asked. "I'm not sure we want someone who even attended 10 parties in high school. We want nerds, damnit!"

Swetnick's allegations get much darker, including drugging and raping women, and Kavanaugh denies them, Colbert noted. "It was against this horrifying backdrop that the president decided to call only his fourth press conference since becoming president." In it, President Trump defended not having the FBI investigate the Kavanaugh allegations and called them collectively a "big fat con job." "That is a harsh attack on these women," he said, "but it would make an honest slogan: 'Trump 2020, A Big Fat Con Job.'"

Colbert encouraged everyone to watch Trump's press conference, which ended while he was delivering his monologue, "and I can't convey to you the shambling mess that reassured no one who's going to see it." Republicans are plowing ahead with the Kavanaugh hearing tomorrow, "with only one of the accusers" and "no witnesses, and then a vote the next day at 9:30 in the morning," Colbert said. "Now, I'm not normally in the business of giving Republican senators advice, but gentlemen — and I use that term inaccurately — you need to call for an FBI investigation now and get to the truth of all these dark allegations. Because if you don't, there are not enough moths in the world to drink your tears on Nov. 6." Watch below. Peter Weber

September 27, 2018

President Trump was still holding his solo press conference when the late-night shows taped on Wednesday, but Trump provided enough crazy material that they fit in what they could. Late Night's Seth Meyers started with Trump's inadvertent laugh line at the United Nations on Tuesday, which Meyers cast as a cautionary tale for when Trump tells one of his canned lies outside his sycophantic bubble. "He had no idea what he was saying was funny," Meyers said, and he tried to claim his line about accomplishing more than any president in history was meant to get a laugh. Meyers wasn't buying it. "So you've been doing that joke for two years, and the first time it ever worked was at the U.N.?"

Finally, Meyers got to the press conference. "Now, a lot of what you're going to hear is going to sound insane," he warned, playing clips of Trump claiming China loves his "big, big brain" and spinning a "deluded conspiracy theory" where Democrats dreamed up all the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and now gather in a room to "laugh like hell" at what they've pulled off. "No, dude, they're not the ones laughing," Meyers said. "You're thinking of the United Nations."

To wit, via The Late Show.

Today was a reminder of why Trump doesn't hold solo press conferences "and why nobody wants him to do it on his team," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "It is the wildest incoherent ramblings of words put together." He focused on Trump's spiel about how the Democrats would block George Washington if he nominated him, imagined Washington and his friends in the afterlife when their text alerts went off, then worried about Washington's reputation. Trump "has this insane, innate talent for destroying people's lives when he vouches for them," he said, pointing to Kavanaugh. "Like, I wouldn't be shocked if George Washington gets removed from Mount Rushmore because of Trump." Peter Weber

September 14, 2018

Stephen Colbert was impressed with The Weather Channel's terrifying new graphics for Hurricane Florence, less impressed with President Trump's tweets about Puerto Rico's hurricanes last year. "Folks, if you watch this show, you know we kid the president about being a terrible person, but in reality, it is much worse than we could have imagined," he said on Thursday's Late Show. He read Trump's tweets about the Hurricane Maria death toll being massively inflated to harm him politically, noting that "not only is this a sickening tweet, it is in no way true."

The estimated number of deaths — 2,975 U.S. citizens — came from a government-commissioned study by researchers from George Washington University, and while it might be politically damaging, it would probably have been buried under all the other Trump-related news if Trump hadn't tweeted about it, Colbert said. "It was kind of like he was on trial for littering and said on the stand: 'I only threw that cup out of my window because I was distracted by the homeless man I ran over. Pretty sure he died of old age, okay? Democrats pushed him in front of my car.'"

Speaking of chaos, Republicans think Trump is going to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions soon, but they also don't believe anyone could get confirmed to replace him and, in any case, no Republican wants the job, Colbert said, reading some responses. And meanwhile, the Trump Organization's former VP of construction just told a story in a New York Daily News op-ed about Trump ordering the Trump Tower architect to (illegally) get rid of Braille in the elevators, reportedly yelling: "No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower." Maybe, "but if you've seen Trump tower, I'm pretty sure blind people decorated it," Colbert joked. "You'd think Trump would love Braille — it's like reading through groping." Watch below. Peter Weber

September 12, 2018

Stephen Colbert started off Tuesday's Late Show by urging everyone near the coast in Virginia, North Carolina, and his home state of South Carolina to be prepared for Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 monster that President Trump accurately but oddly described as "tremendously big and tremendously wet." That's true, Colbert said, making an off-color joke, and Trump "respectfully didn't make the whole thing about himself — for almost a minute. Then he reminded everybody what a great job he did with the last hurricane." The one in Puerto Rico. Where almost 3,000 people died. Colbert had a slightly rude, very brief song for Trump.

"Now, if you're in Washington, D.C., there's another serious weather event headed your way," Colbert said, "and I'll tell you all about it in tonight's 'Stormy Watch.'" The Stormy Daniels saga "has been on pause for a while" as Michael Cohen attended to "some personal business of pleading guilty to a felony," he said, but it's back in the news because Cohen and Trump are waiving the hush agreement and asking for their $130,000 back. There are some slightly risqué jokes as he explained the details.

Trump is apparently using his business background to push NASA to sell naming rights to rockets and spacecraft, Colbert said, not impressed with the idea. He imagined how the moon landing might have gone if 1960s NASA had inked sponsorship deals.

Finally, Colbert chastised Jeopardy host Alex Trebek's "cheap Canadian knockoff of the Colbeard," and challenged Trebek to a trivia contest, the loser of which would have to shave. Watch below. Peter Weber

September 11, 2018

At a rally in Montana on Thursday, President Trump "had a few choice words about the anonymous author of the infamous op-ed," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "Unfortunately, he could only pronounce several of those words." But at the same rally where he had trouble with "anonymous," Trump "was upstaged by an audience member" wearing a plaid shirt and pulling some expressive faces, he said, showing the footage. "Now this is true, they kicked him out of the rally — because that kid did something you should never do at a Trump rally: He listened."

"But Trump wasn't the only president who had a rally this weekend," Colbert said. "That's right, after a year and a half of quiet, [former President Barack] Obama finally came out strong against Trump and dropped a sick burn on the Grand Old Party." He played that, plus a highlight reel of Obama's many "dramatic pauses." Watch below. Peter Weber

September 6, 2018

A senior Trump administration official published an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times on Wednesday, claiming he and other internal "resistance" figures were keeping America safe by thwarting President Trump's impulses. And Trevor Noah had some questions on Wednesday's Daily Show, starting with: "This whole time we've been dealing with the watered-down version of Trump?"

Noah also questioned why Trump's Cabinet thought thwarting Trump was better than removing him through the 25th Amendment, as they reportedly considered. "The 25th Amendment is there so you can use it," he said. "It's like there's a sign that says 'In Case of Emergency, Break Glass,' but these guys were like, 'I mean, we could break the glass, but then there'd be glass everywhere.'" And if the point of the op-ed was to assure America, Noah wasn't convinced: "Before this, I knew there was turbulence. But now someone just came on the PA system and was like: 'Ladies and gentlemen, the pilot is actively trying to crash the plane, but don't be alarmed, we're doing everything we can to stop him. Mikey's got a pretty good chokehold and I've said some pretty harsh words, so please keep your seatbelts fastened and enjoy your peanuts and tax cuts!'"

We already knew the White House was in chaos from Bob Woodward's new book, Fear, Noah noted, recapping some of Woodward's stories. "Look, all of this stuff is obviously crazy, but at some point I think we've got to stop saying that it's a 'bombshell,'" he said. "The day it comes out that Trump secretly works out and reads Shakespeare and teaches kids how to code, that's when we can call it a bombshell." (There's some NSFW language.)

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon's Trump gave a negative review to Woodward's Fear while confirming one anecdote.

And Stephen Colbert's Late Show gave Fear the Reading Rainbow book review treatment. Watch below. Peter Weber

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