President Trump's 2016 campaign is having an increasingly difficult time arguing there was not at least attempted collusion with Russia, but "one thing the campaign has been consistent and adamant about: They had absolutely no contact with WikiLeaks," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "It's an insulting question! And you can take that to the bank — because I think that's where they met with WikiLeaks."
On Monday, it emerged that Donald Trump Jr. had been in semi-regular contact with WikiLeaks during the campaign, and even though he didn't always DM them back, Trump Sr. tweeted out a message similar to one WikiLeaks had sent Trump Jr. just 15 minutes earlier. "I can't prove that Donald Trump Jr. called his father, but like they say, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, the duck is colluding with the Russians," Colbert said. And Don Jr. "isn't the only one implicated," because after the first message from WikiLeaks, he emailed Stephen Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Jared Kushner to inform them of the contact, Colbert said. "And in keeping with Don Jr.'s strategy of not knowing when to shut up, yesterday, after the story broke, he tweeted out the full conversation."
Don Jr. DMed WikiLeaks back three times, Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. "My favorite part of the story is his is first response to WikiLeaks," which started with "Off the record," Kimmel said. "Now, this is WikiLeaks. If the word 'leaks' is right in the name, there's no 'off the record' with them." Then "WikiLeaks" paid Kimmel a visit and clarified their relationship with Don Jr. in the creepiest way. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert tries to talk tax cuts, gets derailed by the Lion King remake, Paul Manafort as a Bond villain
The House Republican plan to completely overhaul the U.S. tax system is the biggest story of the day — "or it would be if we hadn't just learned that Beyoncé will be starring in the new Lion King," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show, excitement real but priorities arguably out of whack. And John Oliver as Zazu the hornbill? "Perfect," Colbert said. "He already looks like a British parrot."
President Trump wants to pass tax reform, but he really just wants to pass anything to get the Russia scandal out of the news, Colbert said. His indicted former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for example, was acting like a spy this year, with three passports with different numbers and a phone and email address with fake names. We don't know his fake name, but his password was reportedly "bond007," Colbert said. "His catchphrase? Bond, can someone please post bond, I don't want to go to jail." He added that Manafort looks less like a secret agent and more like a Bond villain, "Putin Galore," in From Russia With Cash.
The investigation is starting to spook the Trump White House however, and the heat is getting so intense that Stephen Bannon is reportedly urging Trump to defund Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. "Oh come on, Mueller does not need your money," Colbert said. "Trump is so unpopular, Mueller could fund his investigation with an open guitar case."
Colbert made a joke about Trump claiming to The New York Times that he's not under investigation — it ends with a Mueller-organized surprise party and some unconventional gifts. Lest that sound too negative, Colbert ended with a pep talk for an America that tells pollsters this is the lowest point in American history that it can remember. You might learn something. Peter Weber
Chris Matthews tells Stephen Colbert that Mueller will take down Trump. Bernie Sanders says don't count on it.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday's Late Show that Monday's legal actions against three of President Trump's former campaign officials could be the beginning of the end, comparing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to a neat version of Peter Falk's Columbo character. "I think the guy's slowly going to build his case against the Trump enterprise, the entire Trump enterprise, starting with the guy who opened up relations with Russia" and moving up, he said. "It's going to be a slow, inevitable process of developing the closure between the Trump people and the Russians."
In his 50 years in journalism and politics, "I've never met a Russian, I've never had anything to do with a Russian," Matthews said, but with the Trump campaign, Russian ties turn up everywhere. "This is the strangest administration." Then Matthews and Colbert discussed, emotionally, Bobby Kennedy.
On Monday's Late Night, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that the day's indictments of Trump campaign officials were "a major step forward" in Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation, "but I worry very much about the attacks that we're seeing every day in a variety of ways, not only from the Russians, on American democracy." He mentioned Trump's attacks on the Constitution and media, corruption from weakened campaign finance laws, and Republican voter suppression efforts.
Seth Meyers suggested that Mueller's investigation won't bring down Trump anytime soon, and Sanders agreed, saying progressives should focus on "bread and butter issues," not just democracy threats. "Americans are not staying up every day worrying about Russians, Russia's interference in our election," he said. "They're wondering how they're going to be able to send their kids to college. They're worried about how they're going to be able to pay the rent." Watch below. Peter Weber
Tuesday was Halloween, and Stephen Colbert appeared on The Late Show in costume as a late-night host, but in the Halloween spirit. "Now, ghouls and goblins, join me for tonight's twisted tale of terror, The Fall of the House of Trumper," he said, spookily, kicking off another look at Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and two other aides.
Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to argue that Manafort's transgressions "took place long before he came to the campaign" — "Iron-clad defense," Colbert said: "'Don't blame me, I happen to know he was a criminal before I hired him'" — though the indictment says Manafort's alleged conspiracy lasted through February 2017.
Still, if Trump was prepared for the Manafort indictment, he and everybody else was blindsided by Mueller's ace, the unsealed guilty plea of campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who has been cooperating with Mueller's team for months. Colbert showed CNN's Jeffrey Toobin suggesting that Papadopuolos was wearing a wire for those months, declaring the idea "Papadop-alicious." He was less sympathetic about White House staffers who are, reportedly, "freaking out" about the Papadopoulos and Manafort news. "Oh are they?" he said. "Do they wake up every morning feeling overwhelming dread that something terrible is happening in our country that they have no control over? I have no idea how that feels — if I drink enough! Welcome to the club."
"Now, according to Trump, 'George' is just some random young person he's barely heard of, like Tiffany," Colbert said, unkindly. But he didn't buy that or the line from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that Papadopoulos had just one meeting with Trump. "Did you not go to health class?" he asked. "Collusion is like pregnancy — it only takes one time." Watch below. Peter Weber
Monday was an outwardly calm but inwardly tumultuous day at the White House after President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a top aide turned themselves in after being indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a third campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, was revealed to be cooperating with Mueller's team. At The Late Show, Stephen Colbert was all smiles. "Now I know it's almost Halloween, but it feels more like Christmas," he said, trying out a series of Trump-Russia collusion Christmas carols.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was less impressed, telling reporters that the "real story" was Hillary Clinton's ties to Russia. "My God, of course," Colbert said. "Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia to lose the election! But we never saw it because we were playing checkers while she was playing 3-dimensional lose the election." He gleefully played the "fake news" card on the Trump campaign's repeated insistence that it had no knowledge of any attempts to coordinate with Russia, citing the "Papadopo-damning" details of the guilty plea from Papadopoulos.
Trump knew this was coming, and Colbert read through Trump's weekend of "panic tweeting," sighing: "There is something just so reassuringly presidential about screaming 'DO SOMETHING!' into the void."
"All the networks scrambled to cover the latest from the Mueller investigation," Colbert said, "except, of course, for the president's roadside petting zoo over at Fox & Friends." He did agree with Trump's Fox friends on one point, though: "Google, you don't put cheese below the burger — it's a cheeseburger, not a burger cheese." But overall, the only network in the world Monday more "focused on fluff is the one I started to boost the president's ego, Real News Tonight."
The Late Show also showed coverage of the indictment on another imaginary network, the Obvious Metaphor Network. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert began Thursday's Late Show with a Rosh Hashana joke. "I'm so glad its 5778," he said. "5777 sucked." Jewish new year out of the way, he jumped into the latest developments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and President Trump's campaign. Colbert summarized some of the 13 events Mueller has asked the White House about as a K-Tel record, Now That's What I Call Collusion 45, "available wherever CDs are still sold — so I'm gonna say Starbucks."
But Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman, is now probably the central figure in Mueller's investigation, and despite his denials, it turns out he reportedly was in contact with Russians during the campaign, offering "private briefings" to an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin. Colbert had a joke or two about Manafort's "black caviar" code word, then got to the practical objection: "Come on, you can't use a term for something very expensive as a stand-in for money!"
On Thursday's Daily Show, Trevor Noah also caught up with "Hurricane Mueller," the storm that could leave Trump "without power." Like Colbert, he focused on the Manafort angle. "Surprise visits in the middle of the night, all up in his phone?" he asked. "Ladies, get you a man who wants you as bad as Mueller wants Manafort." He looked at how various members of the Trump circle are answering questions about Russia — Manafort's stutter, Vice President Mike Pence's "smoke screen" of words, and then there's Sean Spicer.
"I'm genuinely worried about how Spicer is going to come out of this whole thing, because he seems like he's ready to sign a confession when you ask him anything," Noah said. "It's like Sean Spicer has all of the tells at the same time." The Spicer news on Thursday was that Mueller is reportedly interested in the former press secretary's notebooks. Noah laughed. "Spicer was taking notes?" he asked. "With anyone else, they'd probably just destroy the evidence. With Sean Spicer, you know he'd start to try and burn the notebooks but then somehow end up setting himself on fire." Watch below. Peter Weber
Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.) believes the whole Russian election-meddling story is a farce, recently met with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange in London then reportedly tried to trade an Assange pardon for purported evidence exculpating Russia, and is so notably pro-Russia that his House GOP colleagues "joked" last year that he was probably on the take from Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, "who the hell is Dana Rohrabacher?" Seth Meyers asked on Wednesday's Late Night.
In his "check-in" on Rohrbacher, Meyers explained how "Putin's favorite congressman" came to admire the Russians, how he met and cavorted with Putin in the early '90s, and why Rohrbacher seems to turn up at meetings with many of the same Kremlin-linked figures tied to the Trump-Russia investigation. Oh, and he admitted to smoking marijuana. "So he's a weed-loving, pro-Russia guitar player," Meyers said. "He's basically the guy who ruined every party I went to in college." For the fuller picture, watch below. Peter Weber
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to consider potential criminal wrongdoing by President Trump or his associates tied to the wide-ranging Russian election-meddling investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, and this bombshell was not missed on late night TV. "I'm going to say something right now nobody has ever said before: God, I wish I had jury duty!" Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "But really, how are they going to find unbiased people to serve on this jury? 'Ma'am, have you ever heard of a man by the name of Donald Trump?' 'No, father never mentioned him in our cave-dwelling cult.'"
This news "doesn't mean there's gonna be a trial, but it is a strong indication that something is going to happen," Colbert explained. "It's like picking up a blind date, and the first thing they say is, 'Hey, I need some condoms — can we swing by the store?'"
TONIGHT: Robert Mueller impanels a grand jury, and Stephen is here for it. pic.twitter.com/mbDgWeGFif
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) August 4, 2017
On Thursday's Daily Show, Trevor Noah had a little more context for Mueller's grand jury, and more jabs. "I just hope that if the police ever do arrest him, they protect his head when they put him into the car," he said. "You know what I just realized? If they find out that Trump did commit a crime, he's the one American who can't escape to Mexico."
But the Mueller grand jury news just capped off "a terrible day for Donald Trump," Noah said, starting with the leaked transcripts of his calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia. He read some actual quotes, then spent the next seven minutes talking about police body cameras, and how they are uncovering evidence of evidence-planting and other police malfeasance.
On Late Night, Seth Meyers began his look at Trump's terrible day with a gawk at his terrible new poll numbers. Then he jokingly suggested that maybe Trump won't take the Mueller news all that hard, at least at first. "Trump's probably excited, because he thinks a grand jury is just a fancier jury. 'So beautiful, not like one of those dump juries.'" Meyers also pored through the leaked transcripts of Trump's calls, providing commentary and making special note about a comment Trump made about Meyers' home state: "New Hampshire has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, but still, don't call it a 'drug-infested den'! It's New England — it's a drug-infested inn." Watch below. Peter Weber