last night on late night
October 8, 2019

Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama's national security adviser for four years, was Stephen Colbert's guest on Monday's Late Show, and he began by asking for her thoughts on President Trump's late-Sunday decision to pull back U.S. troops from Kurdish-held northern Syria, allowing Turkey to invade and presumably crush America's Kurdish allies. She had thoughts.

"This is batsh-t crazy," Rice began. The Syrian Kurds "are the people who for the last four years have been fighting on our behalf, with our equipment, to defeat ISIS. And they have done it with enormous efficacy and they've sacrificed immensely, and we've basically just said to them, 'See ya.'" The Turks, she added, "are like the hungry wolf trying to kill the lamb," but "Trump woke up on the wrong side of the bed, it appears," and he decided to give Turkey the green light, "which is why, finally, the Republicans in Congress have gotten a pulse today."

Rice said Trump "seems to be trying to couch this in 'We've been at war too long, you know, I'm sick and tired of all this, somebody else should take up the burden, bye.'" Colbert said Trump's forever-wars argument isn't a bad one, and Rice pointed out that this isn't one of those wars, and in this case, America has "very smartly" let "these very brave Kurdish allies" do the fighting while U.S. troops offer advice and support.

"That's a smart way to fight terrorism," Rice said, but after Trump's decision, "the problem is, ISIS is still there, and when they come back, and when those prisoners that the Kurds have been holding on our collective behalf, get released, supposedly into Turkish hands, those are terrorists that are going to come back and try to harm us and try to harm our European allies."

Rice also recounted a time she got tough on Obama, though "tough" is pretty subjective here. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 2, 2019

President Trump is facing impeachment over asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival. "I think that you are America's premier explainer," Stephen Colbert told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday's Late Show. "Are you at all frustrated that the present scandal is so damn simple?"

"You can't even sleuth your way through it," Maddow said, laughing. "Because in order to find out that Trump called Ukraine, what we had to do was ask Trump, 'Did you call Ukraine?' And he said, 'Yes, here's the evidence.' ... I mean, there's other contextual stuff I can make long segments about, but in terms of whodunit? He did it, and he admits it, and now he's going to be impeached for it."

"Part of what's important now, what I'm sort of enthused about in terms of people being so into it, is that we really know nothing about what's going to happen once he gets impeached," Maddow said. "What's the result of that politically? You know, what does it do to the two parties, what does it do to the next election? Blah, blah, blah, we have no idea." She said she thinks the Republican senators in whose hands Trump's fate rests are waiting to decide how they'll vote "as it plays out," but Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are going to find "their own necks at risk here."

Among the impeachment unknowns is "how Donald Trump reacts to being held accountable for his actions — that's not been a recurring theme in his life," Maddow said. "Not well, I'm guessing," Colbert said. "He's a sore winner." Maddow said there's also a second whistleblower alleging improper handling of Trump's tax returns at the IRS. "That is a whistle I would like to listen to," Colbert said, and Maddow said that may happen.

Below, you can watch Maddow talk about her new book, Blowout, and how Russia's vast oil and gas supplies have made it weak and erratically aggressive on the world stage. Peter Weber

October 1, 2019

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got a rousing ovation on Monday's Late Show. "These are people who are big fans of the alternate timeline we're not living in," Stephen Colbert explained to Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea. He quickly got down to business. "We learned about the Trump-Ukraine call, the private server — is it time to, dare I say, lock him up?" he asked mischievously. "What do you make of it?"

"We have started an impeachment inquiry, which will look at the evidence, and I think that's exactly what should be done," Clinton said. With President Trump, "we've known for a long time that he was a corrupt businessman who cheated people, and we've known that he and his campaign asked for aid from Russia, we've known that. But to see him in the office of the president, putting his own personal and political interests ahead of the national security of our country, just pierced through whatever confusion or denial people had." She explained that impeachment was devised for just such a situation, where the president was subverting the Constitution and threatening the integrity of the next election, in this case by soliciting foreign help.

There's nothing normal about Trump's Ukraine muckracking, Clinton explained. If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on Trump's call with Ukraine's president, he should have known what Trump was going to say, and when Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rival, he should have stepped in to clean that up. Regarding Trump's use of personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as Ukraine envoy, "you know, presidents often use, as do secretaries of state, they might use an envoy or a special adviser to deliver a message," she said. "But again, it is supposed to be carefully thought through, and from what we've seen on television, carefully thinking through is not one of Rudy's strong points."

When they actually discussed the book the two Clintons wrote on "Gutsy Women," Chelsea took a minute to good-naturedly mock her mom. Watch below Peter Weber

September 26, 2019

"You've been in politics for quite some time," Jimmy Kimmel told former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. How do the last 48 hours of President Trump's impeachment-adjacent Ukraine scandal rank "on the outlandish scale"? "Um, 18 out of 10," Biden said. "No, this is really bizarre." "It is almost like you and President Obama left the door to the White House open and a bear got in," Kimmel agreed, summing up the current state of presidential politics. "It's crazy."

Biden dismissed Trump's allegations about him, saying "there's not one single solitary legitimate journalist in the world who's given any credibility to this." But this isn't about him or how "bizarrely" Trump is acting, he added. "It's such a blatant abuse of power that it's just, I don't think it can stand." "Do you think it is impeachable, this particular instance?" Kimmel asked. "Based on the material that they acknowledged today, it seems to me it's awful hard to avoid the conclusion that it is an impeachable offense and a violation of constitutional responsibility," Biden said. "But look, I am confident in the ability of the House and Senate to deal with this. My job is to just go out and flat beat him."

Trump is causing "monumental" damage on the environment, international relations, gun violence, and health care, as well as to America's "soul," Biden said, and he doesn't want impeachment to distract from all that. Kimmel asked Biden if he'd be running if a "decent man like Jeb Bush" had won — there were a few laughs — and Biden said no, probably not. "Look, we can probably handle four years, if he doesn't get us in a war in the next year — and I'm not being a wise guy, I'm not being glib saying that," Biden said. "But eight years of Donald Trump will fundamentally alter the character of this nation, in my view."

"We have so much going for us, and I think it's time we, as Americans, just stop feeling sorry for ourselves, lift our heads," Biden said. "This is the United States of America, there's not a single thing we can't do!" "Mr. Vice President, are you saying you want to make America great again?" Kimmel asked. "I'm saying I want America to be the envy of the world again," Biden replied. #ABEWA? Watch below. Peter Weber

September 26, 2019

Some of the celebrities who read mean tweets about themselves for Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live shot some insults back to their mean-tweeter — Tiffany Haddish, for example, and Sarah Paulson. But many of the film and TV stars played along or even agreed with the criticism. Yes, Will Ferrell shouts a lot. Chris Rock needs to do bad movies because of his divorce. Jeff Goldblum is perfectly aware that he's a freak, and Mark Hamill can sass in Yoda voice. Jake Gyllenhaal found the insult lobbed at him rather poetic, and Kim Kardashian agreed with her antagonist in a different way. And Fred Savage? Well, watch below. Peter Weber

September 25, 2019

Over the last two-and-a-half years, President Trump has had scandal after scandal, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, from being an unnamed co-conspirator to campaign finance violations to saying Nazis are fine people.

"Every time, people have asked, 'Is this the thing? Surely, this must be the thing,'" Colbert said. "And every time, it wasn't the thing. But here's the thing — there's a new thing, and it might be the thing." The audience started wildly cheering as Colbert ran a clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announcing the launch of an official impeachment inquiry against Trump. "Finally, a check on the president," he said. "Up until now, we've only had a check from the president, to a porn star."

Trump has admitted he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, but said he never pushed him into doing anything. Right before their phone call in July, Trump ordered a hold on military aid to the country, and that "sounds like pressure, because Ukraine is fighting an undeclared war with Russia at their eastern border and you withhold our military aid," Colbert said. Putting on his best Trump voice, he added, "Look, if you want our help stopping them from taking more than Crimea, you have to do crime with me-uh." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

September 24, 2019

"Ladies and gentlemen, you know my first guest tonight because he's Paul McCartney," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show, dispensing with the usual introduction. He first asked McCartney how he wrote so many great songs, and McCartney said he was exposed to a lot of music from his father so he had a lot of data to draw upon when he began writing his own stuff. "Plus, I'm a genius," he deadpanned. McCartney said he likes Marvin Gaye's cover of "Yesterday," and pointed out the lyrical change Frank Sinatra and others made to his song.

After the first break, Colbert explained why he gets flustered around musicians and their magical abilities, and McCartney explained that he still finds it hard to believe he's an icon. "It's kind of him and me," he said. "Me is me, that was always in this body, and the body's just grown up," while "him is that famous guy." Colbert asked him how he deals with the emotional connections fans have to his songs, and he said "the biggest bonus you can have" as a songwriter is when a song you wrote "just to make some money" gets in people's heads and takes on a special meaning.

McCartney said that when the Beatles broke up, he started to believe that he was the "villain," as many people claimed, but a photo Colbert had of him and John Lennon writing together had brought him down to earth. "How often do you think about John?" Colbert asked. "Quite often," McCartney said. "I dream about him." He recounted some dreams. Colbert asked what he thought of the recent movie Yesterday, which McCartney said he snuck into a theater to watch. "Well, it was a pretty big plug for me!" he laughed.

Speaking of revisionist Beatles history...

Finally, Colbert and McCartney discussed his new children's book, and also Jimi Hendrix covering "Sgt. Pepper." Watch below Peter Weber

September 20, 2019

Canadian politics has been roiled by a photo that has emerged of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "wearing brownface at a party," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "This is pretty bad, and I just want to say ... it's not us this time! Suck it, Canada!"

"There are so many problems with this photo," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "First of all, it's obviously never okay to do blackface, and secondly, if you are going to darken your skin, at least get the color right, okay? Trudeau isn't dressed like Aladdin, he's dressed as Aladdin doing blackface. ... And also, Trudeau didn't even need the brownface to make the costume work. He's in a full Aladdin outfit at an Arabian Nights–themed party!"

When Time published the photo, "Trudeau hopped on his magic carpet and flew straight to a press conference to apologize," Noah said. And how did that go? "This is not good, man," he said, laughing. "Trudeau came out to apologize for one blackface and ended up admitting to more. He's like, 'I did brownface for Aladdin and I did blackface when I sang the song 'Day-O.' And now, if you'll excuse me, daylight's coming and me wanna go home.'"

"Look, two instances of blackface would be bad enough," Noah said, but "apparently Trudeau has been going full-body," too. "This guy's committed," he said, but "with the Canadian election just one month away, many are wondering if this blackface scandal is gonna hurt Trudeau's chances of being re-elected. And to be honest, I'm just sad to see another black man being brought down." Trudeau is hardly alone, though, and Noah had some suggestions on how to beat the blackface epidemic. Watch below. Peter Weber

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