Nobody seems sure what is going on with President Trump and Russia, and that's "partly because it's really complicated," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. It's also because Trump has "really boring spies," he said. "So I'm going to liven it up right now by explaining the situation with more exciting spies, the Tom Clancy novels." This works out better than you might think.
Colbert spent a few minutes on the new Trump-Russia revelations, including Jared Kushner's previously undisclosed meeting with a sanctioned Russian bank in December. "And it looks like the pressure of these Russian rumors are getting to the administration," he said, a point he illustrated with Sean Spicer's quip about Trump and Russian dressing. "Wait a second, the president put Russian dressing on a salad tonight?" Colbert said. "That's huge news! Trump ate a salad?" Still, based on his Twitter feed, "Russia rumors must be getting to Trump, too."
Rumors aside, "what's the truth?" Colbert asked. "Was there nefarious collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, or is this all just being blown out of proportion by the liberal media over at The New York Times and the FBI? Who knows?" Not, he suggested, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who "doesn't seem all that focused on Russia, because he's spent a lot of time trying to validate Trump accusing Obama of wiretapping him a couple of weeks ago."
Nunes held a surprise press conference last week saying he'd seen evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies inadvertently picked up Trump team communications with foreign powers, but hasn't shared it with his committee members and says he'll never reveal his source. In fact, Colbert said, "the only person he has briefed on the subject is Donald Trump. Oh, that is brilliant detective work. You gather all the evidence you can on the prime suspect, and then you share it with him." The big questions are "what Nunes found out, and who leaked it to him," Colbert said. "And to get to the bottom of that, we're going to need The Late Show's Figure-It-Out-a-Tron." Think Glenn Beck's chalkboard, but naughtier. "He's really in Trump's inner circle," Colbert said, drawing complete. "And no matter where this investigation leads, no matter what we find out, one thing is true: Nunes is not coming out of this smelling like a rose." Watch below. Peter Weber
"Washington is a mess right now, but that's going to end soon," Stephen Colbert joked on Monday's Late Show. "Because the White House just announced that Trump's son-in-law and leader of the preppie camp across the lake, Jared Kushner, will oversee a broad effort to overhaul the federal government. And the government desperately needs overhaul; I mean, somebody keeps putting totally unqualified people in charge of really important stuff." He didn't name any names, exactly. "Kushner will become the head of something called the Office of American Innovation," Colbert said. "Vague, but still better than the original title, the Bureau of Obvious Nepotism."
Kushner's new office will aim to remake the government drawing from business ideas. "And you know he's got great business ideas, like being born into a wealthy real estate family, or marrying into a wealthy real estate family — why hasn't the government tried that?" Colbert asked. He was especially put off by Kushner's "bold vision for the office," that the government should be run as a "great American business," with the citizenry its customers: "Hold it a second. We're not customers, we're citizens, which means we own the store. You work for us, buddy."
Kushner already had a pretty full docket of responsibilities, "like managing the dispute with Mexico over Trump's border wall and brokering Middle East peace," Colbert said, but "Jared will still have time for his hobbies, like testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. Well, not if he overhauls the government first — Business idea No. 1: No Senate." That brought Colbert to the other big story from last week: the FBI confirming that it's investigating the Trump campaign for possibly colluding with Russia during the election. "And you know it was a busy news week when I'm only getting to the treason at 11:58," he said.
Colbert played the footage of FBI Director James Comey publicly announcing that the Trump campaign is under active investigation, one that has been ongoing since at least last July, and he unloaded. "Wow, the FBI is investigating the president of the United States for colluding with a foreign power — that is historic," he said. "The only way it could possibly be more historic is if you told us before the f—ing election!" Watch below. Peter Weber
On Monday, FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers testified in public before the House Intelligence Committee on President Trump's possible ties to Russia, and it didn't go well for Trump. Comey publicly acknowledged, for example, that the FBI is investigating Trump's team and whether it colluded with Russia to sway the election. "That is a huge, huge deal, and yet only 60 days into this administration, you hear that and you're, like, meh," Meyers said. "At this point Melania would have to take Trump on a high-speed chase in a Ford Bronco for us to say, 'This is unexpected! This is a twist I didn't see coming!'"
The Republicans on the committee appeared underwhelmed, too, "eager to focus on literally anything else," Meyers noted. Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), for example, asked Rogers if Russia had tampered with the vote tally in certain states, "an allegation no serious person has made or is concerned about at all," and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) tried to use a "very confusing college football analogy" to question the FBI's belief that Russia wanted Trump to win, and failed. "There's nothing better than watching someone dumb it down with a sports analogy and then lose the thread of that dumb sports analogy," Meyers said.
The other big news from the hearing is that Comey swatted down the idea that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump, and Rogers said Britain's GCHQ didn't, either. "There you have it America," Meyers said, "you can either trust the head of the National Security Agency or the guy who thinks 'tap' is spelled with two Ps."
Meyers also rolled his eyes at Trump's ice-cold meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, and Trump's new suggestion that he will hold meetings at Mar-a-Lago because it's more convenient for everyone. "It's not convenient," Meyers said. "Everyone else works in Washington, D.C. You're the only one with a private club in Florida that you can get to via Air Force One." Trump has also adopted a new, worrisome nickname for that club, he added: "So why has he started calling it the Southern White House and stopped calling it the Winter White House? Because he's going to be there year-round, motherf—ers! Sorry, I'm sorry, I feel bad now. I shouldn't say that. I should say: He's gonna be there year-round, taxpayers!" Watch below. Peter Weber
"You know how there's all this smoke about the idea that Trump and his folks colluded with the Russians to influence the election, and the Trump people are, like, 'There's nothing to see here'?" Stephen Colbert asked on Thursday's Late Show. "Well, I spy with my little eye the attorney general of the United States." He walked through the problems Jeff Sessions now faces, from charges that he lied under oath to Congress to the substance of his misleading comments: meetings with the Russian ambassador.
Sessions partially bowed to pressure Thursday afternoon and announced he'd recuse himself from any Justice Department or FBI investigation of Trump's campaign and Russia, but Colbert wasn't overly impressed. "You called yourself a campaign surrogate, then you lied under oath that you never met with the Russians, so you don't have to recuse yourself," he said, "because you've already [censored] yourself."
The Sessions-Russia imbroglio wasn't the only thing going on in the Trump White House on Thursday, Colbert noted, shifting gears. "While his attorney general was going up in flames, Trump was down in Virginia addressing the military in Newport News — or as he calls it, 'Newport Fake News.'" He wasn't entirely sold on Trump's new military dress-up look, or his knowledge of the modern U.S. Navy, playing a clip of Trump talking about what it was like to be on the USS Gerald Ford. "Congratulations," Colbert said, "you've just described a boat."
Colbert kicked off Thursday's Late Show with a quick, more lighthearted jab at Sessions, set to nice Russian-sounding music. Watch below. Peter Weber
The revelations keep on rolling in about President Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, the latest being the kerfuffle about Attorney General Jeff Sessions meeting with Russia's ambassador at least twice, and being less than truthful with the Senate about it. Sessions volunteered under oath that he was a Trump surrogate and had not met with any Russians, Seth Meyers said on Thursday's Late Night. "That's like your wife asking, 'Do you think our son has a drug problem?' and you say, 'No! And I don't either!' It's suspicious."
"Obviously the timing of this latest bombshell was not good for the White House, as they were trying to enjoy the success of Trump's speech on Tuesday," Meyers said. But Trump's Russia problem keeps getting bigger. "Now look, there could certainly be legitimate reasons for Sessions to meet with the Russian ambassador," he said, "it's that he withheld that information from Congress that's a problem," exacerbated by the "cagey" responses from several other Trump campaign and administration officials about meetings with Russian officials. Trump himself has been cagey too, Meyers said, playing clips of his contradictory remarks about his relationship (or not) with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Look, we need a full and independent investigation to get to the bottom of this," Meyers said, wrapping up, "and it's clear that Jeff Sessions cannot provide that." Watch him lay out his case below. Peter Weber
On Thursday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert started off his monologue with President Obama's surprise farewell gift to Vice President Joe Biden, made a Franklin Pierce joke, then returned to the big story about the unsubstantiated dossier on President-elect Donald Trump's alleged ties to Russia. He noted that since his riff on the dossier Wednesday, media reports have identified the British former MI6 agent who put it together, reportedly for Jeb Bush's presidential campaign.
"So a Brit spy named Steele — is he Remington Steele's cousin?" Colbert asked. He called Christopher Steele a "kind of on-the-nose name for a British agent," then disclosed that it's also the name of a gay porn star. "And now Christopher Steele is on the run," Colbert noted; reportedly "he was seen fleeing his home yesterday and asked a neighbor to take care of his cat. Oh, you gotta protect the cat, because Trump is known for grabbing the—" (You can probably provide the punch line.)
Colbert then turned to Trump's press conference on Wednesday, pointing to the pile of apparently blank sheets of paper Trump passed off as documents relinquishing control of his business. "Wow, that is a really big pile of... something," he said. "So it's all just political theater. The press conference even had a best supporting actress, Trump's lawyer, Sheri Dillon. And we know she's extremely qualified because — and this is true — her firm was the 2016 winner of the 'Russia Law Firm of the Year' award."
He ended on the Senate confirmation hearing for Rex Tillerson, Trump's pick for secretary of state. Tillerson, former ExxonMobil CEO, told the senators he did not recall doing business in Iran and Syria through a European subsidiary, and "reassured the committee that Exxon never lobbied against Iran sanctions," Colbert noted. When a senator held up copies of lobbying reports showing Exxon lobbying four different pieces of legislation on the Iran sanctions — "Oh, that lobbying, yeah, yeah — I thought you meant I was against buildings in Iran having lobbies!" Colbert joked — Tillerson asked if Exxon was lobbying for or against the sanctions. "Well, that's just what you want in a secretary of state," Colbert said: "A guy who's not sure which side he's on." Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert kicked off Wednesday's Late Show monologue by talking about President Obama's farewell address on Tuesday night. "It was truly a moving experience, and I just have to say... let's talk about Donald Trump for a second," Colbert said. "Because there's a story that that came out in the last 24 hours, and — pardon the expression — it is, um, juicy." He started with CNN's report that Trump was briefed by the top U.S. intelligence officials last Friday on unsubstantiated claims that Russia has compromising information on him, then moved on to the leaked, unverified dossier.
"Everyone admits this report is unverified, and the man is about to be president of the United States, so I'm not going to validate that report by sharing the most salacious details from it," Colbert said. "Even the detail everybody's talking about, okay? You might call it the, um, No. 1 detail. I think this is just an unfortunate leak... that's making a huge mess, and I know I'm being a wet blanket, but reporting on this is the worst kind of yellow journalism. And even though jokes about this story are a golden opportunity, I just won't do it. Not to say the story didn't make a huge splash — it did. It flooded Twitter, I mean. We'll keep you up to date as facts trickle in. And we have our best researcher working on it — she's a real whiz. And one thing is for sure: The president-elect is a Goldwater Republican who truly believes in trickle-down." He cracked puns for a full two and a half minutes.
"I only feel for Donald Trump a little bit here, because he brought this on himself," Colbert said. "And I have a suggestion, Mr. Trump, of how to get rid of it: Just do the thing you have never done, which is say anything Putin wouldn't like. Alright? That would prove they're not running you." Trump could also release his tax returns — which Trump said again on Wednesday he won't do, because they're under audit, prompting Colbert to imagine the IRS agent with big enough nerve to audit the president. He ended where he began — talking about Obama's farewell speech — and with one last Russia dossier joke, and the band played him out with The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers." Watch below. Peter Weber