Thursday night was the penultimate night of The Late Show's Russia week, and "my favorite night," Stephen Colbert said. He has been showing reports from his Russia trip all week, but "the piece we're showing tonight is really the whole damn reason why we went," he said. Colbert explained that when his executive producer pitched the idea of a trip to Russia back in December, Colbert thought nobody would still be talking about Russia six months into Trump's presidency. "I was a dummy," he said. What changed everything was the leaked dossier on Trump by a former British spy alleging that Trump has deep financial ties to Russia, that the Kremlin was supporting Trump's campaign, and that other part.
In his New York Times interview on Wednesday, Trump claimed that the dossier was "made-up junk" and "a phony deal," and said he had a witness, Phil Ruffin, to disprove the most salacious detail, involving urination and the presidential suite at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton. He showed a photo of Phil Ruffin. "Now, the wildest accusations in that dossier have never been confirmed," Colbert said. "But as far as I know, nobody has tried to confirm them. And here's the reason why: The real news, while reporting on the dossier — your CNNs, your MSNBCs, your Fox's — they said, 'Oh, that's too salacious for us to even look into.' But it's the only part we care about!"
In his sometimes giddy report, Colbert asked Andrei Soldatov, a journalist and surveillance expert who has been critical of the Kremlin, what Russians had been told about the alleged "pee-pee tape" (a lot), and whether he thought it plausible that the Kremlin had such compromising evidence on Trump. Colbert then gave a tour of the Ritz-Carlton presidential suite, which is pretty impressive, and tried his best to find evidence to support the dossier's claim. He didn't exactly leave empty-handed. Watch below. Peter Weber
Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah gawk their way through Trump's incriminating interview with The New York Times
With his dreams of repealing ObamaCare on the rocks and his firstborn son keeping Russia in the headlines, President Trump on Wednesday "decided that it was time to do some damage control, by talking to Public Enemy No. 1," The New York Times, Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show. He played, then made jokes about, the parts of the madcap interview where Trump talked about his second meeting with Vladimir Putin, shared his warm feelings about French President Emmanuel Macron, and gave an odd revisionist history on Napoleon and Russia.
"As strange as that all was, that was the amusing part of the interview," Noah said. "It's how Trump puts the 'fun' in 'fundamentally unfit to be president.' Then there's the other parts of the interview, the parts that remind us that, if he could, Donald Trump would dismantle the rule of law like it was one of his marriages." He played Trump's comments about regretting hiring Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"I am still stunned at how Donald Trump can make the most damning admissions as a 'By the way...'," Noah said. "Because you realize, Trump just admitted he only picked Sessions because he thought he would quash investigations into Trump. And he just says it." What Trump's saying is he believes the presidency is meant to serve him, regardless of law or ethics, Noah argued. "The only thing more shocking than his autocratic view of power is his willingness to talk so openly about it. In a strange way, Donald Trump is both the most honest and dishonest president of all time." He suggested a new nickname, Abraham Nixon.
On Thursday's Late Night, Seth Meyers gave a little more background on the Trump-Sessions bromance and how it unraveled. Then Meyers, too, played Trump's comments to the Times about Sessions, and like Noah, he was confused. "How would he recuse himself before he got the job?" he asked. "That would be like someone trying to get a construction job and saying their best skill is workers' comp." Meyers also looked at how Trump and his allies on Fox are laying the groundwork to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump's continued trash-talking of former FBI Director James Comey, and how Trump will throw any ally — ahem, Chris Christie — under the bus to save his own skin. Watch below. Peter Weber
The Trump White House has branded the next few days Made in America Week, but on Stephen Colbert's Late Show it is officially Russia Week.
The first of his five field pieces from his trip to Russia were coming later in the show, Colbert said in his monologue, but "meanwhile, back in the United States, Russia. Folks, things are not looking good for the president's son and store-brand Billy Baldwin, Donald Trump Jr.," thanks to the meeting he took a year ago with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer and a former Soviet counterintelligence agent. "Of course, when it comes to Don Jr., there's not much intelligence to counter," Colbert added, unkindly.
Trump Jr. originally said he met with just the lawyer, then the spy-turned-lobbyist said he was at the meeting, and it next emerged two more people whose identities are unknown were also present, for a total of six people at the meeting, Colbert said. "Six! That's more people than are currently working at Trump's EPA." And then it turned out there were eight participants, five of them Russians. "This is the first time a Trump has lied about having a smaller crowd size," he said.
"Keep in mind, Don Jr.'s defense this entire time has been that he wanted to collude with Russia but got nothing, therefore innocent?" Colbert said, recapping the shifting stories Trump Jr. has told about the meeting. Colbert ended with a series of zingers about President Trump's new lawyer, Ty Cobb, plus the president's short turn in a shiny fire truck. Watch below. Peter Weber
On Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert reiterated that he was extremely happy to be back in America after his visit to Russia last week. "The whole trip was supposed to be top secret," he explained. "I'm serious. I wanted to get over there and get back before anybody knew. And some traitor leaked that I was over there. Luckily, after an exhaustive search, we have found the leaker — it was me." He showed the tweet he sent to President Trump showing himself in Russia, apologized to himself, then gave some context: "That's me in front of St. Petersburg's Winter Palace — or as they call it, Czar-a-Lago."
While in St. Petersburg, he was the guest on the late-night talk show Evening Urgant — "It's hosted by the very talented Ivan Urgant," he said. "Ivan, I presume, is Russian for 'Jimmy'" — "and while talking to Ivan, I accidentally made some news on purpose," Colbert said. He showed a bit of his interview, and it included some jokes about Russian election meddling that demonstrated some intestinal fortitude, or perhaps comedic foolhardiness. "Now, to be clear, all I said in that little clip there was that I was considering a run" for president in 2020, Colbert explained. "If I decide to run, obviously I'm not going to ask the Russians to help my campaign, okay? I'd have my son-in-law ask them." He ended with some descriptions of his trip that made his late-night jokes in St. Petersburg seem all the pluckier. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert, just back from a trip to Moscow, apologizes to Trump over Russia's election hacking
Stephen Colbert was in Russia last week, he revealed on Monday's Late Show.
His audience may not have been aware of his travels, but "you know who did know I was in Russia?" Colbert asked. "Russian intelligence — hard-core fans, evidently, followed me everywhere." He explained that he and his crew returned from Moscow Sunday night, that he was still on Russian time, and that he would show some of the several segments he shot there in coming weeks.
"But while Russia was fascinating, it is sincerely wonderful to be back in America," Colbert said. "Let's see what everybody's talking about here. Oh that's right, Russia." He walked through the big Washington Post report that former President Barack Obama knew about Russia's specific plot to tip the election to Trump back in August, but eventually did little to stop it. "President Trump is a well-known Russia-hacked-the-election denier," Colbert said, showing video evidence. So he appeared surprised that Trump went all-in on the idea that Obama did nothing to prevent Russia hacking the election in his favor.
Colbert adopted his Trump-tweet voice and paraphrased: "That's right, there was no Russian hacking, period. #FakeNews. Wait, it was Obama's fault? Russia stole our election and Obama let it happen! Thanks, Obama. No, seriously, thanks, Obama. I'm president now. Thanks!" He read the rest of Trump's tweetstorm, stopping to marvel at Trump's new self-adopted nickname, and his chutzpah. "Hold on, nobody is accusing Obama of 'colluding or obstructing,'" Colbert noted. "That's your deal." Trump also demanded an apology over the Russian hacking, and Colbert agreed: "Look, I'm a big enough man to apologize. And I think I speak for the majority of Americans when I say, 'I'm sorry you're president.'"
Colbert ended his monlogue by noting that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is no longer letting his press briefings be recorded. "Evidently, while I was in Russia, we turned into Russia," he said. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert kicked off Thursday's Late Show with Wednesday's bombshell that President Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice. "Looks like Trump's gonna need to change that hat: Make Justice Obstructed Again," he joked. "This is a huge moment, this is a historic moment — the president of the United States is presently under criminal investigation. When the movie comes out, this will definitely be in it."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has assembled an all-star legal team to conduct the investigation, and that appears to have Trump rattled. He is publicly floating the idea of firing Mueller, for reasons that will likely just backfire. "So Trump just ended up hurting himself with what one White House insider called 'this cockamamie scheme to get Mueller to play ball,'" Colbert said. "Now we don't know who at the White House said that, but I will point out that 'cockamamie' is Mike Pence's dirtiest swear word."
Trump was apparently stung by this news, so he took to Twitter to complain about the "phony" obstruction of justice allegations, and calling the Mueller investigation "the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history." Colbert was amused. "Yes, it's just like the Salem witch trials, when those young women were accused of witchcraft and then said 'We did witchcraft' in an interview with Lester Holt," he said. He noted that the Senate overwhelmingly approved a law preventing Trump from lifting sanctions against Russia without congressional approval. "Now that looks like Congress thinks something fishy is going on between Trump and Russia ..." Colbert said, leaving it there.
On Thursday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel also took note of Trump's "WITCH HUNT" tweeting and the president's use of #MAGA at the end. "He's even making witch hunts great again," he joked. "I don't think witches play golf every weekend. You know, the way we'll know Trump is a witch is when the White House falls on top of him." But maybe this whole investigation is a witch hunt, Kimmel said, so he turned to a witch, "Abigail Shipton" (Andy Samberg), who confirmed what we already knew. Watch. Peter Weber
President Trump turned 71 on Wednesday, and Samantha Bee celebrated with the beginnings of a poem and a Gallup poll showing Trump's disapproval rating at 60 percent. "Happy 71st, 45, let us know when you get tired of winning," she said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. "We'll be over here, watching America's hottest summer replacement series." The Senate Intelligence Committee is certainly putting on quite a show, but last week's episode was better than Tuesday's, she said. "Compared to Comey Day, Sessions-palooza was a southern-fried snoozefest." Not that it didn't have its moments.
Bee played some highlights of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony — starting with his "essay on What I Didn't Do Last Summer" — including his testy interaction with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and the fawning spy-fiction talk with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). "The folksy prevarication elf had just drawled us all into a coma when we were suddenly jolted awake by a fast-talking lady lawyer," Bee said, and she spent the rest of the segment on the travails of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), including the frequent interruptions from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the attitude from Sessions, ending with a comparison to the O.J. Simpson trial. There is some NSFW language. Watch below. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, the world tuned in to "everybody's favorite reality TV show, So You Think You Can Testify About Russia," Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. The contestant this time was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was asked a lot of questions but did not provide a lot of answers. "Let me get this straight," Colbert said after playing some clips. "Attorney General Sessions, you're not answering even though the president hasn't claimed executive privilege and you haven't claimed executive privilege. So what are you claiming, white privilege? Because I hear that's a thing."
He ran through the totally not-partisan questioning from senators, mostly Democrats but also one Republican who asked about James Bond, and the various ways Sessions did not answer them. "Wow, Sessions really seems to know nothing," Colbert said. "Explains why he was the first senator to endorse Trump."
Colbert also took a shot at Dennis Rodman's latest visit to North Korea, where the former NBA star suggested that Trump is "pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need." Colbert shook his head: "Something you both need? You mean a distraction from the Russian investigation? Wait, does that mean Dennis Rodman met Sergey Kisliak for a secret game of one-on-one?" No, but there was one odd detail Colbert dug into: the "secret funding back-channel" Rodman used to pay for his trip. The answer included some fake bong hits and real jokes, and you can watch below. Peter Weber