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
Stephen Colbert kicked off Tuesday's Late Show with some congratulations for new parents George and Amal Clooney, then turned to the "slightly less important news" about Russian hackers trying to penetrate voter roll databases days before November's election, according to a leaked NSA memo that was all but confirmed by a U.S. senator. "This is how democracy ends, with a fake email sent to the ancient cat lady manning the polling station at your high school gym," Colbert said. "So, who really knows who won Nov. 8 now — I mean, other than Vladimir Putin. Now I'm a little rusty on my Constitution, but I guess that means: new election?" Colbert's audience liked the idea, though constitutional scholars probably won't.
We know the NSA document is not "fake news" because the leaker was immediately arrested, Colbert said. "The leaker's name, and this is true: Reality Winner. So it's official: The Trump administration is at war with Reality." She was apparently caught because the document she leaked was creased, and the NSA tracked down the printer she used based on nearly invisible dots. "Wow, you can trace any document based on the printer," Colbert marveled. "It's like NCIS meets Dilbert."
So the evidence that Russia tampered in the U.S. election is getting pretty strong, but at least one person isn't buying it (mostly): Russian President Vladimir Putin. Colbert played part of Putin's interview with Megyn Kelly, where Putin says maybe U.S. intelligence killed JFK, so they could also have framed Russia. "Nice try, Vlad, but I will not stand by while you try to confuse the American people with bulls—t conspiracy theories," Colbert said, wagging his finger. "That is Donald Trump's job." He ended by explaining how Reince Priebus keeps his job. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert welcomed MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday night's Late Show by noting that all of a sudden, she is the No. 1 star of cable news. She pointed to her unusual format. "I definitely feel like the most important thing that I can do right now is just try to explain stuff," she said. Colbert asked her what she thinks of Trump's trip abroad so far, and she started by laughing at this moment right after he arrived in Israel from Saudi Arabia:
Oh man, watch Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer (on right couch) react when Trump says—in Israel—"We just got back from the Middle East." pic.twitter.com/x7nb4uvqpR
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) May 22, 2017
"Presidential trips can go either way when there's a president in a time of crisis," Maddow said, noting that when Richard Nixon was fighting the release of his Watergate tapes, he took a trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, too. Colbert pointed out that Trump has been quiet on Twitter since he left the U.S. Maddow shrugged. Trump doesn't get to make his own news anymore, she said. Now, "the news of the Trump administration is the news of people investigating it and figuring out what's really going on."
Colbert asked Maddow if Trump could be right, that this really is a "witch hunt." She was skeptical. "It's possible it was totally anodyne, that it had nothing to do with the Russian attack on the election that was happening at that same time, it's possible there was nothing nefarious about it at all," she said, but at this point it's up to the Trump White House to explain all the mysterious contacts with Kremlin officials and why Trump's attempts to end the FBI investigation wasn't obstruction of justice.
Is there any chance Republicans would impeach Trump, or would he only face justice if Democrats win Congress in 2018? Colbert asked. "I try not to see it in partisan terms," Maddow said. If it is proved that Trump tried to quash an investigation into his campaign, "it is hard for me to believe that Republicans would not rise above their party in that instance." Colbert wasn't convinced. "My worry is that Donald Trump will just degrade everyone's standards and morals as we pick sides," he said, citing examples. "We're going to have to decide if we're that country or not," Maddow said. "And I think we're not." Watch below. Peter Weber
Elections have consequences, and right now, America is knee-deep in a "steaming pile of consequence," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Because right now, things that are self-evidently bad are being sold to us, by people who know better, as perfectly okay." The Late Show taped before the newest scandal surrounding President Trump hit the presses, so Colbert focused on Monday's bombshell about Trump sharing highly classified information with top Russian officials, with Tuesday's updates. Reportedly, "Israel was the source of the intelligence Trump gave the Russians, and oops-a-shalom, Trump is scheduled to visit Israel next week," he said. "That is really going to be one awkward state dinner."
To tamp down the story, Trump sent out National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster with "a complete denial, by the most respected member of the Trump administration — smart strategy," Colbert said. "And following that, Donald Trump did the right thing by giving someone else the final word and not contradicting it on Twitter — I'm just kidding." In fact, Trump essentially "confessed" to spilling state secrets. "This explains why he doesn't write murder mysteries," Colbert said. "'Chapter 1: I did it.'"
"So to recap," he said, after laying out the details, "Donald Trump admitted to firing the man in charge of investigating his Russian ties, then he met with two Russian diplomats — a meeting that was arranged by Vladimir Putin, and which we only saw because Russian photographers were in there to take photos — and at that meeting, he admits he gave Russian diplomats classified information." Colbert noted some reactions from Republicans, including a pre-reaction from a certain presidential candidate who said we shouldn't allow presidents who mishandle classified and secret information in the Oval Office. "I gotta say," he said, "and I don't care if this is taken out of context, I completely agree with Donald Trump."
Colbert turned next to the other people affected by Trump's scandals. "I do not envy those people at the White House," he said. "I would not want to be working there right now, and apparently neither would the people who work at the White House." He interviewed one of them, and yes, there is a hedge joke in there. Peter Weber
Monday's bad news is that, according to The Washington Post and other newspapers, President Trump shared highly classified information with top Russian diplomats last week, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "The good news? Trump found the leaker." The intelligence was reportedly so sensitive it was classified as "code word" information, which Colbert explained like this: "Code-word means the vital aspects of the story have to be replaced with other words. You have to say things like, 'The package has been delivered,' 'The squirrel is in the basket,' 'The idiot is in the Oval.'"
Colbert then turned back to Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, running through the purported "loyalty oath" Trump tried to get Comey to pledge to him, and Trump's tweeted threat to release "tapes" of their conversation to the press. "That would be huge," Colbert said. "I mean, it would be the first time a leaked tape ever made Donald Trump look good."
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has refused to discuss the alleged "tapes," Colbert said. Generally, "the entire week has been a messaging disaster, and sources say Trump is 'frustrated and angry at everyone' and that he's considering a 'huge reboot.' Yes, it's yet another '70s reboot, Watergate 2: Resign Harder — this summer, he is a crook."
Colbert played some of Trump's "hard-hitting interview" with Jeanine Pirro at Fox News, where Trump repeated his threat to cancel the press briefings and do them himself. "Oh, sir, please don't do your own press conferences," he said, rubbing his hands together. "They're always such fountains of eloquence and bastions of dignity — what would we make jokes about the next day?" Trump also assured Pirro that Spicer is a good guy who's just getting beat up in the press. "Okay, he's firing Sean Spicer," Colbert translated. "Luckily, that time Sean spent in the bushes will come in handy next week when he's working at the Home Depot."
"I have something to say here," Colbert said. "Donald Trump, if you're watching, first of all, you're a bad president, please resign. Second of all, please, please, please don't take Sean Spicer from us! Where else am I going to get my daily dose of veiled anger and condescension?"
If Spicer gets the boot, there's always Real News Tonight, Colbert's cheerfully pro-Trump fake-news team — though it sounds like, sadly, Jill Newslady's job isn't safe, either. Peter Weber
All the chaos in the White House and Congress this week — the hearings, the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the backlash — is "because of the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia," Trevor Noah noted on Thursday's Daily Show. "So, if you were Donald Trump right now, what's the one thing you would stay away from?" Russia, of course, but more specifically, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, "the specific guy who got Michael Flynn fired and made Jeff Sessions have to recuse himself from the Russia investigation," Noah said. "If there's one person you don't want any more ties to, it's this guy."
So of course on Wednesday, only a few hours after he fired Comey, Trump hosted Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House. "You brought Russians into the Oval Office?" Noah asked. "Although, Trump is so oblivious, who knows if he even realizes what a big deal this is?" The meeting was set up at the instance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he noted, sighing: "You know, it's starting to feel less like Putin's blackmailing Trump and more like he has Trump hypnotized."
On the other hand, "Donald Trump may be crazy, but it turns out he's not stupid," Noah said. "You see, he knew that this would look bad, so he didn't allow any American journalists into the room — no photos, no documentation, no pics, so it didn't happen." Except, well, he let Russian state media in, and they shared the photos, making the White House — as CNN reports — furious, because the Russians lied. "Aw, bless your soul, Trump. I can't believe how innocent Trump's people are," Noah concern-trolled. "How are you shocked that they lied. How?"
"Russia is owning Donald Trump so hard right now, it's embarrassing," he said. "It's like watching the Harlem Globetrotters — did you have to dunk on him and pull his pants down, man?" After this stunt, "I don't want to hear another word about how it was only the DNC that got hacked because Team Trump is so smart and secure," he added. "Because Russia just proved that if they want to hack and leak some dirt on Trump, they can do it face to face without him even noticing." He ended with a short X-Files parody. Watch below. Peter Weber