Stephen Colbert began Thursday's Late Show with an appreciative nod to the three Korean-Americans who landed in the U.S. early Thursday after being released by North Korea. "The president was there to meet the freed men, along with Melania — who is hoping to be freed next," he joked. "Trump made some brief remarks," and "all he had to do was not thank the murderous dictator who had imprisoned these men in a windowless black hole." He did. Kim "wasn't 'excellent' to them," Colbert said. "And you know the hint that he wasn't? They look happy to be with you."
"Of course, no Trump accomplishment would be complete without a little bragging about ratings," because "this is how history judges all presidential accomplishments: Did it do better than an infomercial for Slapchop?" Colbert said. "Some are attributing this diplomatic victory to Trump's plan to out-'crazy' North Korea," he added, slipping into Trump voice: "Thanks for releasing the hostages, Kim. Now I'm sending them back — didn't see that coming, all right? I've been eating paint chips."
"If Kim Jong Un wants insight into the president," Colbert said, he could just hire Michael Cohen. The payments to Cohen from a Russian oligarch and corporations Colbert talked about Wednesday were "just the tip of the bribeberg," he said. Cohen indulged in some "pretty bald influence-peddling," but he wasn't alone — one GOP consultant said that everyone was hiring "Trump whisperers" in 2017, Colbert said. "A Trump whisperer is like a dog whisperer because, well, there's a lot of indoor peeing and hitting with rolled-up magazines."
Colbert recounted some racial profiling incidents at Nordstrom Rack and Duke University. "We have see far too many of these types of stories popping up in recent months, which leads white people like myself to ask, 'What can we do?'" he said. His solution: a new segment, "Late Show Tolerance Tips." It was pretty comprehensive. Watch below. Peter Weber
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating allegations of sexual assault against former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The investigation is "in an advanced stage," a Manhattan DA representative said. The probe is looking into allegations of sexual abuse made by actresses Paz de la Huerta and Lucia Evans. Prosecutors are examining claims that Weinstein "lured or induced any women to travel across state lines for the purpose of committing a sex crime."
Weinstein has denied ever engaging in nonconsensual sex acts. The movie mogul has been accused of wide-ranging abuse by more than 50 women. The allegations range from sexual harassment to rape, and many women in the entertainment industry say they felt coerced or manipulated by him.
Weinstein's attorney has met with prosecutors "in an attempt to dissuade them from proceeding," reports NBC News. New York Police Department officials are reportedly ready to arrest Weinstein if they receive approval from Manhattan DA Cy Vance. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza
Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that he is now recommending that Trump sit for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
"I guess I'd rather do the interview. It gets it over with it, it makes my client happy," said Giuliani. “The safe course you hear every lawyer say is don't do the interview, and that's easy to say in the abstract. That's much harder when you have a client who is the president of the United States and wants to be interviewed."
Giuliani has flip-flopped when it comes to whether or not Trump should grant an interview to Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian interference during the 2016 election. On Tuesday, Giuliani said that "the answer would have to be no," but apparently the president's view on the matter has changed several times as well.
Trump agrees with attorneys who advise him against an interview, said Giuliani, then "he goes right back to, 'why shouldn't I?'" Giuliani told the Post that Trump was frustrated but optimistic: "His tweeting has been effective" in discrediting the investigation, said Giuliani. "He feels the public opinion is turning in his favor."
Even though Trump is apparently unconcerned, Giuliani worried that investigators would accuse him of committing perjury in an interview. "They may have a different version of the truth than we do," he said. Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza
President Trump on Wednesday said that the U.S. should revoke aid to any country that allows immigrants to come to America. During a roundtable meeting about immigration loopholes and gang violence, Trump offered what he claimed would be a simple solution.
"We're going to work out something where every time somebody comes in from a certain country, we're going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them in aid," said Trump to cheers, "if we give them aid at all."
Trump said that many countries encourage citizens who commit crimes or are involved in gangs to go to the U.S. "They'll let you think they're trying to stop this — they're not trying to stop it," he said. "They don't want the people that we're getting in that country."
The president additionally doubled down on a statement from his last roundtable meeting on immigration. Trump was criticized for calling immigrants involved in gang violence "animals," but he repeated himself on Wednesday. "I called them animals the other day and I was met with rebuke," said Trump. "They said, 'They're people.' They're not people. These are animals." Summer Meza
After a year-long background check, President Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, has at last been granted permanent security clearance, a White House insider told The New York Times on Wednesday. Kushner was among a number of administration officials who had his temporary highest-level security clearance downgraded earlier this year.
The White House official who spoke about Kushner's status claimed that the long process was not unusual for someone "who has a complicated financial history and many foreign contacts," as the Times writes. And while Kushner is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — CNN reports he sat for a seven-hour interview with investigators in April — that probe apparently did not play a part in his clearance status.
The NFL Players Association is not happy with the NFL's new "respect for the flag" policy.
On Wednesday, NFL owners approved a new rule that will require any football player on the field to stand and "show respect" during the national anthem before each game. Players have the option of staying in the locker room until after the ceremony, but if they don't stand while on the field, they will face a fine. Many NFL players have opted to sit or kneel during the anthem as a way to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S., drawing criticism from people who say it's an inappropriate way to make a point.
"The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new 'policy,'" read the statement from the Players Association, the organization representing NFL athletes. "NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement, and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about."
The union went on to say that the new rule ran in opposition to what NFL executives had previously told players. "Our union will review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement," the statement concluded. Summer Meza
A federal district court judge in New York has ruled it's unconstitutional for President Trump to block users on Twitter. The president's Twitter feed was ruled to be a "public forum," and by blocking users, he is in violation of the First Amendment.
YOU HEAR THAT? UNBLOCK ME COWARD https://t.co/8TN3orCyAz
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) May 23, 2018
Part of the decision came down to the fact that when Trump blocks a user, they are no longer able to reply to his tweets, Reuters reports. "Once it is a public forum, you can't shut somebody up because you don't like what they're saying," argued U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald earlier this year.
The ruling could potentially have even broader implications:
This pretty clearly suggests that the ruling covers all public officials. https://t.co/kEzEuYxfaB
— Philip Bump (@pbump) May 23, 2018
Buchwald ultimately ruled that "the viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the president's personal First Amendment interests." The lawsuit was filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute and Columbia University and a handful of Twitter users. Read the full decision here. Jeva Lange
Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, was paid at least $400,000 to arrange a talk between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, BBC reported Wednesday.
Trump and Poroshenko had a brief meet-and-greet at the White House last June, but sources in Kiev told BBC that Ukrainian agents facilitated the meeting with Cohen as part of an effort to establish a "back channel" to Trump. Cohen's role in the arrangement would have legally required him to register as a representative of Ukraine, which he did not do.
Cohen accepted money to fix a meeting between the two leaders that went beyond the brief Oval Office handshake, sources said. Poroshenko reportedly wanted to address allegations against Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been charged with a number of crimes related to dealings in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials stopped investigating Manafort soon after the June meeting.
BBC reports that Poroshenko and Trump entered an "understanding" of sorts, with the U.S. selling Ukraine arms, coal, and diesel trains and Poroshenko believing there to be a "non-aggression pact" between the two leaders.