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Late Night Tackles the Trump Administration
December 13, 2018

President Trump "is still searching for a new chief of staff," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Like any job working for Trump it comes with dental, paid sick leave, and free government housing for five to 10 years." The White House said Tuesday that current Chief of Staff John Kelly will stay on through "at least Jan. 2" to ensure "a very peaceful and pragmatic transition." Colbert translated: "So they fired Kelly, can't find anybody else, make him stay to train his successor. It's like saying to your girlfriend, 'Hey, I'm breaking up with you, but I'm going to need you to stay on until at least prom to ensure a peaceful and pragmatic transition to Becky over there.'"

The president keeps getting turned down, like "a reverse Apprentice," but "Trump says he's flooded with résumés for the chief of staff job" and is considering 10-12 contenders, Colbert noted. One reason filling the job is so hard is that the candidate apparently has to meet the approval of Jared and Ivanka, "so congratulations to new Chief of Staff Mohammed bin Salman," he deadpanned. Trump told Reuters his chief of staff criteria, and Colbert suggested "he's really looking for his soul mate, him." He tried to decipher a cryptic quote from Trump about Hillary Clinton and money.

Trump also told Reuters that he's not worried about impeachment because "I think the people would revolt if that happened." Colbert found that plausible. "Yes, it's true: The people would take to the streets, vandalizing champagne bottles, grinning with rage, blocking traffic with their protest dancing. It would be absolute pandemonium." He demonstrated. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

The Late Show found a reason for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to smile, finally.

Yes, "the White House right now is going through yet another big shakeup," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. President Trump nominated William Barr to be attorney general — "I saw the headline 'Trump Nominates Barr,' I thought he picked Roseanne," Kimmel joked — and Kelly is out in January. "The president's having a hard time finding someone to replace him," Kimmel said. "It's a tough situation: How do you convince a rat to jump on a sinking ship? It's against their nature."

Kimmel revisited some Trump tweets — when he mocked former President Barack Obama for having three chiefs of staff in three years, when he attacked ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as "dumb as a rock," and when he praised him.

But Kimmel dwelled on Trump's early-morning Monday tweet about "No Smocking Gun" despite digging by "Democrats" and ex-FBI Director James Comey. "Typos aside, this is some argument, because Donald Trump is defending himself by reminding us about the hush money he paid to a porn star and a centerfold, which he calls a 'private transaction,'" Kimmel said. "He's clearly panicked right now — I would not want to be a bucket of KFC in Washington tonight. And what about the 'Smocking Gun'? This isn't the first time he's tweeted the word 'smocking.'" For the good of the nation, Kimmel gave Trump a quick lesson about "ck" words versus "ke" words, like "jock" versus "joke."

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert dug a little deeper into Comey's testimony before House Republicans — the proximate trigger for Trump's "Smocking Gun" tweet — and then dissected the tweet. "Now some say that's a typo," he said, "but today at a fiery briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Farblah defended the president's tweet." And in the fake press conference, "smocking" suddenly made sense. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

Stephen Colbert began Monday's Late Show by congratulating outgoing White House Chief of Staff on his imminent departure and for "a job, well, done." President Trump, who had a tense relationship with Kelly from the start and promptly broke his promise to let Kelly break the news of his departure, "already had Kelly's replacement picked out," Colbert noted. But his pick Nick Ayers, turned him down, "and it's not just Ayers — nobody seems to want this job."

"So the president is in desperate need of a chief of staff, and he's got no viable candidates, which is why I'd like to take this opportunity to officially throw my hat in the ring," Colbert offered. "Mr. President, I, Stephen Colbert, am your next White House chief of staff." He said he wouldn't be able to control Trump or bring order to the chaotic West Wing, and he will fight with Trump and disagree with his policies, "but I believe in my heart of hearts that this could be fun for me," Colbert said. "I mean, who would pass up the chance to spend 10 minutes on the deck of the Titanic while it's sinking?"

"I think it's fair to say that being Trump's chief of staff did not work out well for John Kelly," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Because remember, he came into the job known as a respected four-star general, and now he's leaving the job known as the guy who fired Omarosa." In fact, there's a good reason "nobody wants this job," he said. "We all know by now what happens if you work for Trump. At some point you're going to lose your credibility, and then you spend every day being insulted by a 72-year-old 5-year-old. Who would want that? So many Americans don't want this job, Trump might have to let a Mexican do it." Except Michael Kosta volunteered, too. Watch below. Peter Weber

November 15, 2018

President Trump is reportedly angry that his aides didn't warn him skipping a Veterans Day memorial at an American military cemetery in France would make him look bad, and he's under fire for his promotion of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "We're learning some interesting stuff about Whitaker's past," including his judicial nomination criteria, as outlined during his 2014 unsuccessful run for a Senate seat in Iowa.

"In the opinion of the current attorney general of the United States, if you're not a Christian, you won't be a good judge," Colbert summarized. "But it's right there in the Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, yada, yada, yada, what would Jesus do?" Whitaker is also apparently "steeped" in time travel and Bigfoot. "Before we go any further, I just want to say that there's serious debate over whether Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional and might obstruct justice," Colbert said, "but tonight, daddy don't give a damn — I want to talk about time travel and Bigfoot man."

This all had to do with the patent marketing company Whitaker worked for (before the FTC shut it down for scamming investors out of $26 million), and Colbert appeared more than happy to run through the details — which, to be fair, are pretty incredible — and tie it all together.

Seth Meyers had some fake facts about Whitaker at Late Night — and they still somehow look tame compared to reality.

Colbert briefly reprised his "Squatch'd" gag during his rundown of Trump's bizarre list of Medal of Freedom recipients, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

October 10, 2018

President Trump's United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, "surprised everyone today by resigning," Jimmy Kimmel noted on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. "She said she wants to spend more time away from Trump's family." Trump "seemed very sad to see her go," but he already "has a terrific candidate in mind to replace Nikki Haley," Kimmel laughed, playing footage of Trump gushing about how daughter Ivanka, who already works in the White House, would be an amazing U.N. ambassador but he won't pick her because people would accuse him of nepotism. "Meanwhile, poor Donald Jr. is in a tree stand somewhere in North Dakota watching that on his phone and crying," he joked.

Kimmel was impressed with Trump's "nutty" new "conspiracy theory about his conspiracy theory" about "paid protesters" railing against nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. "No one was paid to protest, there's zero evidence of that, so Trump — quite brilliantly, I must say — made that into the conspiracy: The paid protesters haven't even been paid! And the thing is," he added, "you know who actually did hire a bunch of people to show up to pretend to be supporters at his campaign announcement and then didn't pay them for months afterward? Donald J. Trump."

On the other hand, climate change "is not a hoax, no matter what [Trump] says," Kimmel said, offering a darkly comic solution to a new report about the Earth's 12-year window to save all life from destruction — and the Trump administration's ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ response.

Kimmel was also bemused with Trump's upcoming lunch with Kanye West. "Am I the only one who would buy that lunch on pay-per-view?" he asked. "The question now is how will the hysterical right-wing media react to this — I mean, you remember when Obama invited Common to the White House, all the fuss over that?" In case you don't, Kimmel had a trip back in time with Sean Hannity. Watch below. Peter Weber

September 25, 2018

"A lot of presidents might look at a week in which their Supreme Court nominee's being accused by multiple women of sexual assault and think, 'It can't get any worse than this,'" Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live, but that's where President Trump really "shines — it can always get worse." In this case, Trump is meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday amid speculation he'll fire him over a New York Times report about Rosenstein suggesting wearing a wire to record Trump. "It would be very fishy if Trump fires Rosenstein, because he's the guy overseeing the special counsel and the Russia investigation," Kimmel said, "but Thursday's also the day of the [Brett] Kavanaugh testimony, and some people believe Trump might fire Rosenstein just to change the news coverage that day."

Stephen Colbert saw an immediate flaw in Rosenstein's alleged plot. "The wire is really smart, because — think about this — if Trump were caught on tape saying something horrible, he could win the 2016 election," he deadpanned on The Late Show. "The whole damn thing came to a head this morning when one news report claimed that Rod Rosenstein had verbally resigned to John Kelly — to which Kelly replied, 'Damnit, I was going to resign to you!' But, they were wrong." Cable news networks went crazy chasing the rumors anyway, Colbert said, laughing over "the first ever cable news car chase of a parked car."

On Late Night, Seth Meyers noted the absurdity of "a constitutional crisis because nobody could tell if Rod Rosenstein was joking of not," then ran through the crazily shifting reports on Rosenstein's job status, including the CNN anchors "talking in circles about how confused they were." He ended with some dodgy theories Republicans are trotting out to explain away the Kavanaugh sexual misconduct allegations, including Jeanine Pirro's hypnosis theory and Ben Carson's ideas about a vast Fabian conspiracy. Watch below. Peter Weber

September 14, 2018

This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined Instagram, and his new nickname for the State Department raised some eyebrows. "You know, between the Space Force and the Department of Swagger, this Trump administration has really given us an exciting look into what the government could be if it were run by a wealthy 12-year-old," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. He paired the "Department of Swagger" idea with a specially created State Department new-employee orientation video designed to "fit in with the hip new attitude," and, well, maybe this all would have gone better with input from actual 12-year-olds. Watch below. Peter Weber

September 5, 2018

There was "historically crazy stuff happening" every one of the 19 days The Late Show was on break, a white-bearded Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's show, and "we were prepared to talk about all of it," but then Bob Woodward dropped excerpts of the latest "explosive book about the Trump White House," and what are you gonna do? According to Woodward, nobody in the White House likes President Trump, least of all Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Colbert had some fun with choice Kelly quotes about hating his job, calling Trump an "idiot," and referring to the West Wing as "Crazytown."

There were also quotes from Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Trump himself, who reported mocked Attorney General Jeff Sessions as "this dumb Southerner." Colbert took umbrage: "As a South Carolinian, that is a hurtful stereotype, sir. Not all Southerners are dumb — just the ones willing to work for you." But the craziest anecdote from the book might be that after a disastrous mock interview, Trump lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow went to Special Counsel Robert Mueller to re-enact the interview and argue that Trump is incapable of telling the truth, he said. "Those are his lawyers, trying to help him not go to jail."

Colbert finished with a brief recap of Tuesday's Senate's Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, the theatrics and the case of the missing (or last-minute) documents. Watch below. Peter Weber

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