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Late Night Tackles Trump and Russia
March 29, 2018

On Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team filed a court document suggesting President Trump's former campaign vice chairman Rick Gates was "directly communicating in September and October 2016" with an unidentified person who he knew "has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. That person matches the description of Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked with Gates when he was lobbying for Ukrainian politicians in Kiev. "Really? Kilimnik?" Colbert said. "If you're a Russian operative, you might want to go by something less suspicious. Maybe try Sergei Murderov."

"So my question is: Is it collusion yet?" Colbert asked. "Gates was Trump's deputy campaign chairman who stayed on through the inauguration, knowingly met with a Russian spy in the months leading up to the election. What more evidence do we need? Donald Trump in a T-shirt saying 'I Colluded With the Russians and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt — and the Presidency'?"

"So the president almost definitely colluded with Russia," Colbert said. "But there's equally important news out there — Tiffany Haddish says somebody bit Beyoncé." You can watch him unpack that mystery below. Peter Weber

March 26, 2018

In a strange confluence of shared interest, Fox News and late-night TV have both glommed on to the most salacious and least likely to be corroborated part of the dossier former British spy Christopher Steele compiled on President Trump and Russia. So of course Stephen Colbert's Late Show noticed when the hosts of Fox & Friends started calling the Steele dossier the "dirty dossier," presumably a reference to the unsubstantiated allegation involving prostitutes and urine. A blander and more corporate dossier might be offended at being labeled "dirty," but Colbert's anthropomorphized dossier — which speaks using only words and phrases found in the dossier — took the slight and ran with it, stand-up comedy style. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 21, 2018

Last week, lawyers for President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller sat down to discuss which topics investigators could ask Trump about, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, showing an artist's rendition of what Trump's lawyers asked for: "They will allow questions on the 2016 electoral map and noises trucks make, but nothing about Stormy's bathing suit area or 'Vlad stuff.'" Trump is also shaking up his legal team, Colbert added, introducing viewers to former U.S. attorney, Fox News regular, and new Trump lawyer Joe diGenova.

Another Trump lawyer, John Dowd, might be leaving because, according to The New York Times, he has concluded he has "no control over the behavior of the president." "You just figured that out?" Colbert asked. "Come on, man, Trump doesn't even have control over Trump's behavior." He mourned the thought of Trump sacking his other lawyer, Ty Cobb, and had a wry laugh at Ivanka Trump's turn as a vape-lab analyst in Iowa.

Meanwhile, "on Sunday, Vladimir Putin won an election rigged to prop up a dangerous strongman who is threatening Western democracy," Colbert said. "That requires a strong response — so Donald Trump called him up to say, 'Atta boy!'" Among those unhappy "that Trump was giving the thumbs-up to a murderous dictator for winning a sham election" were his national security team and a bipartisan group of senators — including Sen. John McCain (R), who slammed Trump for insulting "every Russian citizen denied the right to vote in a free and fair election." Colbert had some words of consolation — "Don't worry, Sen. McCain, the Russians still have a chance to vote in our midterm!" — and a creative way to paper over the fact that former President Barack Obama also congratulated Putin on his similarly shady 2012 win. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 20, 2018

The big news on Facebook is that "free will is an illusion," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show, pointing to the weekend's news about Trump campaign "behavioral microtargeting" contractor Cambridge Analytica. "That's a classy name, Cambridge Analytica — not to be confused with their competitor, Oxford Thinkemups," he joked. It just came out that when the data firm was run by Stephen Bannon, it built detailed psychographic profiles of U.S. voters by harvesting the personal information of 50 million Facebook users without authorization. "Now, I consider myself both a 'neurotic introvert' and a 'fan of the occult,'" Colbert joked, "which is why I often summon Satan, but then I'm too shy to talk to him."

Facebook discovered this breach in 2015 but didn't warn users. "Really?" Colbert asked. "The one time I actually would have wanted a Facebook alert? Perhaps that could have replaced one of the four messages I get a day about my ex-roommate's college girlfriend's one-woman show."

Cambridge Analytica is defending itself on Twitter by "saying advertising can't change your behavior — literally on the same page that says 'Data-driven behavior change,'" Colbert noted skepically. But things got arguably worse when Britain's Channel 4 recorded secret footage of Cambridge Analytica executives bragging about tipping elections through stoking fear, plus a little bribery and entrapment, specifically mentioning Ukrainian women. "Well, we don't have to worry about them blackmailing our leaders," Colbert said, "as long as no one in Washington is attracted to Eastern European women — oh my God."

Colbert also congratulated "friend of the show" Vladimir Putin for "making up a realistic sounding number," 76 percent, in his re-election victory. "This is Putin's highest margin of victory yet — it's really impressive, though I'm starting to think he might have had help from the Russians," Colbert joked. "As much as I'm happy for him, my condolences to Putin's opponents, Viktor Strawmanski and Nerve Gas Patient No. 5421. Too soon?" Watch below. Peter Weber

March 6, 2018

Last week, Stephen Colbert flew down to Washington with his own "memo" on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and he had some fun at Nunes' expense with the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, and even Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). "As much fun as we had down there, ultimately what we wanted was for Devin Nunes to respond to us, a comedy show," Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "But say what you want about the guy, he's not that dumb — is what I thought." He played a clip of Nunes complaining about Colbert on Fox News. "He took the bait!" Colbert said.

Nunes told Fox News that Colbert is part of the "danger" the left poses to America, and when asked if Colbert even tried to contact him for the show, he replied, "Not that I know of." Colbert had the footage. "Either your staff didn't tell you that I charged into your office, or you're not telling the truth," he said. "So is Devin Nunes a liar? Not that I know of." Colbert played some outtakes from his interview with Schiff, then summarized Nunes' view of the situation: President Trump, who openly asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails, is good for America; Stephen Colbert, a comedian, is "a danger."

In the full video from Friday, Colbert failed to get much information about the Russia investigation from Schiff or the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), but he at least made Schiff laugh. Warner? "I mean this as a compliment — you look dead inside," Colbert told the senator. "I appreciate that," Warner said. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 6, 2018

"Now, I know you all came here tonight to hear me talk about trade tariffs," Stephen Colbert deadpanned on Monday's Late Show, after recapping the Oscars. "But we're not talking about trade tariffs tonight" he added, "because right before we taped this show, the entire news cycle jumped on the bus to crazy town. At the wheel?" Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg. Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Nunberg in the Russia investigation, and Nunberg spent much of Monday on TV insisting he won't cooperate.

"Nunberg took over cable TV like a car chase," Colbert said, playing some choice CNN and MSNBC clips. He found Nunberg's defiance a little puzzling: "You know Mueller can arrest you, right? That's like saying 'Eat me' to Hannibal Lecter." And yet Nunberg talked and talked and talked, dropping tantalizing clues and unsubstantiated bombshells. "This guy is like a Snickers bar — the peanuts just keep coming," Colbert marveled. "I think all of our feelings about Nunberg's call-ins this afternoon were best summed up by this face," he added, showing a frowning Jake Tapper. "Are you happy Nunberg? You broke Jake Tapper! I keep telling Jake, if you keep reporting on the Trump campaign, your face is gonna stick that way." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 28, 2018

"First son-in-law" Jared Kushner has lost his top security clearance, Stephen Colbert noted on Tuesday's Late Show, and when his audience cheered, he fake-rebuked them: "What's wrong with you people? How will he fix the Middle East now? He was so close to starting." So far, President Trump "has not commented on Jared's demotion — he was too busy with his main presidential duty, live-tweeting Fox News," Colbert joked, pointing to one that really stood out: "WITCH HUNT!" Presumably, Trump was talking about the Russia investigation, but nevertheless it persisted on Tuesday with the congressional testimony of Hope Hicks.

Hicks refused to say much, annoying and boring members of both parties, but there's nothing dull about Russia's continuing attempts to meddle in America's elections, Colbert said. "That's impressive — Americans don't even show up for the midterms. And with this sword hanging over the neck of American democracy," NSA chief Adm. Mike Rogers warned the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Vladimir Putin has learned from Trump's inaction that there's no price to pay for election-meddling, America isn't doing enough to protect itself, and Trump hasn't given him the necessary orders to protect America from Russian hacking. Since that's not funny, Colbert spun an analogy involving a burning house and a Twitter-obsessed fire chief.

To calm everyone down, Colbert turned to some "booze news," Johnnie Walker's new female-focused brand, Jane Walker. "Female drinkers everywhere will say, 'Finally, a brand that's condescending to me,'" he said, jabbing at the "brandsplaining" rationale that scotch is "particularly intimidating" for women, and lady scotch shows "the brand's commitment to progress." The Jane Walker launch was originally scheduled to coincide with Hillary Clinton's victory. "Why did you scrap it?" Colbert asked. "I'm pretty sure the 2016 election made a lot of women want to drink." Watch below for his suggestions on other lady versions of well-known liquor brands. Peter Weber

February 23, 2018

It has been two weeks, and President Trump still has not released the Democratic rebuttal to the memo compiled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and nobody is sure why. The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the Democratic memo, but Trump said it contains classified information (he ignored similar concerns when he approved release of the Nunes memo, with no redactions). On Thursday, Stephen Colbert's Late Show found a creative way to remind everyone that the Democratic memo is still being withheld.

The Democratic memo apparently shows, among other things, that the FBI did not rely on the Trump-Russia dossier to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as the Nunes memo claims. So Colbert had the dossier interview the Democratic memo, depicted as blindfolded and in prison. But The Late Show throws in a twist at the end. Watch below. Peter Weber

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