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Late Night Tackles Trump versus Mueller
November 8, 2018

"Last night was a monumental election that fundamentally shifts the balance of power in Washington, D.C., for years to come — and it is not the top story," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Because today, Trump fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions." He elaborated with a long Edgar Allan Poe joke. "Now there's some confusion among stupid people as to whether Sessions was fired or he resigned," Colbert said. "He did submit a letter of resignation, but it began: 'At your request, I am submitting my resignation.'"

Trump clearly fired Sessions because he recused himself from the Russia investigation, and Colbert kind of came to his defense: "You can't blame Sessions for recusing himself — it's the only thing that's good that he's ever done. It's like hating Lou Bega for 'Mambo No. 5.'" Colbert gave his stand-in for Sessions a chance to say farewell, then crushed him.

Then Colbert got down to brass tacks. With Sessions out, "who on Earth would be willing to go down in history as the man who stepped in to fire Robert Mueller?" he asked. "Enter new Acting Attorney General and Caucasian M&M Matt Whitaker. Now there is no way to know Whitaker's stance on the Mueller investigation — unless you read his op-ed, 'Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far,' in which Whitaker wrote that if Mueller looks into Trump's finances, it 'could be damaging to the president of the United States ... and by extension, to the country.' And by 'the country,' of course, he means Russia."

"So Trump just hand-picked a guy who wants to stop the investigation into Donald Trump to be in charge of the investigation of Donald Trump," Colbert recapped, comparing that to a murder suspect choosing his own judge. He used a telling tweet from Whitaker to imagine his first day on the job. Watch below. Peter Weber

November 1, 2018

On Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office said it had asked the FBI to investigate claims that somebody was trying to pay women to falsely accuse Mueller of sexual misconduct. Yes, "somebody is trying to frame Robert Mueller — and not the way I thought, where he reveals the president's ties to Russia and then we hang Mueller's picture in every home in America," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "If you're going to pay women to lie, the charges have to pass the smell test. Mueller is so famously a straight-shooter, his birthday suit is a suit. A wild night for Mueller is having coffee after 5 p.m."

"So who is dumb enough to think they're smart enough to pull this off?" Colbert asked. "The master-let's-say-mind of this scheme is 20-year-old Twitter troll Jacob Wohl," owner of a dubious firm called Surefire Intelligence, based on several clues. "How dumb do you have to be to use your own photo in a con game against the former head of the FBI?" Colbert asked. "I'm beginning to think he didn't think this one through."

Wohl also registered Surefire Intelligence's website with his own email address, and a number on the site led to Wohl's mother's voicemail. "Yeah, his mom's phone — that explains the outgoing message," Colbert said, playing a fake message. But the tale isn't over. "Despite the story completely falling apart and the FBI breathing down their necks, it's still being pushed by Wohl's accomplice," GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman, who is planning to trot out the "first" Mueller accuser at "high noon" on Thursday, he added. "Yes, high noon. Because if you believe any part of this story, I'm guess you're high by noon." Watch below. Peter Weber

August 10, 2018

President Trump "remains on vacation, but it's a working vacation, because he's still lying," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. According to one tally, Trump told 132 falsehoods last week, or 19 lies a day, almost five times his average, he noted. "Wow, that is impressive! How does he keep up that pace? Does he wear some sort of wrist tracker, the Fibbit?" Trump debuted some big new whoppers, and Colbert ran through some, conceding that with Trump's "tendency to cheat on facts," his lawyers — and Fox News pundits — have a point about him not sitting down to talk with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But Colbert had an idea: "He could not lie."

Since "his lawyers know that's not an option," he added, they are gunning to neuter Mueller by severely limiting the questions he can ask Trump. Colbert offered an analogy: "Look, you can ask my client, Jeffrey Dahmer, about anything you want — other than murder and dinner."

The Late Show dramatized the White House demands for Mueller's questions.

Colbert moved on to the Oscars and Drake's plan to trademark the phrase "God's Plan," not just for his song but also merchandise and a TV game show. "I can't wait for God's Plan the game show," Colbert joked, imagining what that might look like (and feel like: painful). "Still, hard to believe Drake is trying to trademark 'God's Plan,'" he said. "I mean, you have to wonder how the Almighty feels about that." And the Late Show ceiling God came out and told him. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 9, 2018

There were some pretty big elections on Tuesday, including the still-contested special election in Ohio's solidly red 12th congressional district between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "If the vote difference tightens any further, it could trigger an automatic recount under Ohio election law — and under Ohio election law, whoever loses the recount has to go to the Lakers." Tuesday's elections also made history because now a record 11 women are gubernatorial nominees, Kansas Democrats nominated an openly gay Native American first-time candidate for Congress, and Kansas Rep. Ron Estes (R) won his primary challenge against a different Ron Estes. Colbert had a song about that last victory/defeat.

Meanwhile, President Trump may still be on vacation at his golf club in New Jersey, Colbert said, "but he hasn't forgotten about the Mueller investigation," mentioning ending the special counsel's investigation "about 20 times" with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) over golf on Sunday. "You know what they say: Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different restful is the definition of a very stable genius," he said. And then he played some imagined, increasingly bonkers voicemails from Trump to Graham. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 3, 2018

Thursday was Day 3 of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecution of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, and The Late Show celebrated by melding the courtroom sketches of Manafort into A-Ha's breakthrough 1986 video for "Take On Me." If you know the video, this is a treat.

Stephen Colbert began his monologue with another one of Mueller's subjects. "Our commander-in-chief had a hissy fit on Twitter yesterday," he said, "and now we know why he's freaking out. Apparently, Trump's tweetstorm came after learning Mueller wants to ask him about obstruction of justice." Mueller has agreed to limit his questions and accept some written responses, but Trump apparently wants a full interview, against the advice of his lawyers. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, wants Mueller to "put up or shut up," like in poker, and Colbert arched an eyebrow: "Oh, you'd better hope you're not playing poker, because your client can't keep a casino running." He finished with a recap of Manafort's trial and his ostrich- and python-jacket-filled wardrobe, which "looks like if a blind pimp got 100 wishes."

"If you're trying not to seem evil, maybe don't dress up as a snake," Trevor Noah agreed on Thursday's Daily Show. Trump is clearly paying attention to Manafort's trial, and he's also rage-tweeting about Mueller, problematically. "This is so insane: President Trump may have obstructed justice because he's mad about being accused of obstructing justice," Noah said. Trump's legal team doesn't see it that way. "Rudy Giuliani is making it sound like Trump's tweet was just a helpful suggestion, and that Trump is not Jeff Sessions' boss and the most powerful man in the world," Noah said. "It's like Darth Vader telling you, 'You should really consider joining the dark side, but no presh.'" He also deflated the Trump team's arguments that Trump is just "fighting back" and that you can't possibly collude in plain view, only in secret. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 2, 2018

"Well, another day, another presidential tweetnado," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Brace yourself, this one's about the Russia investigation." He poked fun at President Trump's "smocking gun" tweet then read "the worst of Trump's tweets today," in which the president urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to kill Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "Rigged Witch Hunt," more commonly known as the Trump-Russia investigation.

"Donald Trump is telling his attorney general to shut down the investigation of Donald Trump," Colbert pointed out. "Rudy [Giuliani] should tell him that just because he's doing it in public doesn't mean it's not obstruction of justice. Public urination is still urination!" Trump is probably nervous about former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's ongoing trial, he added, but he had a funny way of showing it: "Wow, Trump really knows how to make you seem sympathetic: Compare you to America's sweetheart, Al Capone — who, I remind you, died on an inescapable prison island, of syphilis."

On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel had a good laugh about Trump's "smocking gun" typo, demonstrating a prototype on sidekick Guillermo and turning Trump's penchant for misspelling into an ad for an enticing board game.

Late Night's Seth Meyers focused on how most Republicans are shrugging off Trump's apparent public obstruction of justice. And he had some theories. "Republicans are willing to ignore whatever Trump does ... as long as he cuts their taxes," he said. "Trump and his allies know that time is running short — Manafort's trial is underway, Michael Cohen's turning on them, and that's why they're raiding the government's coffers for as much as they can, while they can. Because some of them might be headed to jail soon."

Meyers also juxtaposed Trump's belief that you need to show photo ID to buy groceries with his Congress-free plan to hand a $100 billion tax cut to super-wealthy investors, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

August 1, 2018

Stephen Colbert kicked off Tuesday's Late Show with the trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman. "I feel like it's Christmas morning, because all year long, Robert Mueller and his team of legal elves have been busy in their workshop, making all the indictments for all the bad little boys and girls — and the magical day we've all been waiting for is finally here." Colbert ran through the highlights of the first day of Manafort's trial, noting he has reason to be worried. But "one person who's apparently not worried about Robert Mueller's investigation is Donald Trump," he said.

For more than a year, Trump's "catchphrase has been 'no collusion,'" Colbert said. "It's like his 'aloha' — it means both 'hello' and 'I'm guilty.'" But Trump and his team "have recently rebranded, and are using a new phrase that Trump tweeted out this morning: 'Collusion is not a crime,'" he added. "Trump's completely flipped the script on this collusion thing. What's next? He's gonna go from 'This is a witch hunt!' to 'Okay, but I'm good witch, like Glinda, the hot one from The Wizard of Oz.'"

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon tackled the collusion question in character as Trump, anchoring the Trump News Network. "This morning I tweeted, 'Collusion is not a crime,' and it worked," he said. "Apparently, if you say something's not a crime, then it's not a crime." Fallon's Trump listed some examples, explained why Rudy Giuliani is doing a great job, and moved on to other news. Things got a little weird with the "Bigfoot erotica" story out of Virginia, and you can watch that and the rest of the Fake Newscast below. Peter Weber

July 31, 2018

Last week, President Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen revealed that Trump knew about and approved a meeting his son Donald Trump Jr. and campaign officials had with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton. "Wow, that is shocking information — Donald Trump had an actual in-person conversation with one of his sons," Trevor Noah joked on Monday's Daily Show. "Also, this Russia thing is pretty big, I guess. Because if they can prove that Trump knew that his campaign was meeting with the Russians, it would go a long way toward proving collusion."

Trump needed some damage control on the collusion front, so "Rudy Giuliani was once again unleashed upon the world," Noah said. "But the thing about Rudy is, just when you think he's backed into a corner, he finds an even tighter corner."

So "Giuliani moved the goal posts even further, arguing that even if collusion did happen, it's not a crime," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "Seriously, this argument's insane. Just because Trump didn't do the hacking doesn't mean he's not complicit in the crime. And besides, Trump has already been very clear about who he thinks did the hacking ... It was a guy in New Jersey who's fat." So ...

"Wow, they are really moving the goal posts on this," Stephen Colbert agreed on Monday's Late Show. "What's next? 'Okay, collusion's a crime, but it's just a little crime.' Then it will be: 'Since when are crimes illegal?'"

"They've already come up with the plot for the next Mission: Impossible — getting Rudy Giuliani to stop talking," Jimmy Fallon joked on The Tonight Show. After "he said that 'collusion isn't illegal,' even Trump was, like, 'Why can't this guy think before he speaks?'" Watch below. Peter Weber

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