Stephen Colbert kicked off Tuesday's Late Show with some much-needed "good news" out of Wakanda, the fictional African nation featured in the blockbuster movie Black Panther, which crushed all sorts of box office records over the weekend. "Meanwhile, back here in America, we have our own drama," he said, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians and three Kremlin-linked entities — and President Trump tweeting about it for the rest of the weekend.
Some of the indicted Russians trying to influence the 2016 election were in contact with "unwitting individuals" associated with Trump's campaign, according to the indictment. "Unwitting — so that narrows it down to the entire Trump campaign." Trump's first tweets claimed vindication, but as "the mean TV people pointed out that it did not exonerate Trump," his tweets got progressively angrier, Colbert said. You can watch him read some of them, with commentary, below. Peter Weber
President Trump's lawyers are advising him against talking with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, because of Trump's well-documented problems with the truth and sticking to one story, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Yeah, it is a crack legal analysis from the law firm of No Sh-t & Sherlock."
"I know Trump watches this show, because it's on TV, so right now I've got a special message for him," Colbert said. "Mr. President, ignore your lawyers, sir. You follow your instincts and you sit down with Robert Mueller. Otherwise, everyone's going to think that you're scared. But we know that you're not — oh, oh, your fried chicken has arrived," he added, holding up an empty KFC bucket and looking at the screen. "Where is that — oh, I think I know where the chicken is. Bawk bawk-aw."
Colbert turned to the declassified memo from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). "Republicans hyped this dud for weeks," he said, with their central claim that the FBI didn't tell a FISA judge that the Trump dossier referenced in the application to surveil former Trump adviser Carter Page was paid for indirectly by Democrats. "If true, that's a pretty damning charge," Colbert said. "Spoiler alert: not true. Turns out the partisan nature of the dossier was mentioned in a footnote. Now Nunes really should learn how footnotes work — he's about to become one in history."
Nunes isn't letting the footnote get in the way of his story. "I mean, just because a footnote completely destroys your entire argument, that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep making the argument," Colbert said, with a footnote. Democrats have their own rebuttal memo that may be released this week, "so our nation's leaders have been reduced to passive-aggressive memo writing. It's the congressional version of the office thermostat," he added. And he imagined the heavily redacted version of the Democratic memo that Trump might release. Watch below. Peter Weber
"The hottest news item in America is about a three-and-a-half-page memo no one has read — yet," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. The memo purports to show that the FBI used misleading information in a FISA application to surveil a campaign adviser for President Trump. "Ugh, that sounds a little dry," Colbert said. "Can't another porn star come forward about spanking the president? I mean, it's been over a week!"
Friends of Trump say the president sees the memo as a way to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. "Yes, it's like when you're losing at basketball, so you shoot the ref," he said, slipping into Trump voice. "I guess I win — there's nobody to tell me I didn't. Now, who wants to be the new referee?"
The memo was written for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Colbert said, and "there's suspicion that Trump's White House helped Nunes write this memo. Because remember, Nunes' last supposedly shocking memo was written by the White House that they gave to him to give back to them." Trump's ultimate target with the memo appears to be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the only one who can fire Mueller. Some people in the White House are concerned the memo is a "dud" that will disappoint Trump's base, Colbert noted. "But, Mr. President, even if the memo doesn't prove that the FBI's out to get you, look on the bright side: After you release it, I think they might be."
Mueller, meanwhile, is zeroing in on an apparent cover-up involving Donald Trump Jr.'s email exchanges with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. The new person of Mueller's interest is Hope Hicks, who reportedly assured Trump that his son's inculpatory emails "will never get out" — until Don Jr. tweeted them out. "So, good luck, Ms. Hicks," Colbert said. "These are the Trumps you work for, and you are literally the only Hope they have." Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert wryly tries to out–Sean Hannity Sean Hannity in his whiplash-inducing defense of Trump
Sunday night's Grammy Awards "was a pretty political show," with artists including Camilla Cabello, U2, and Logic criticizing President Trump's immigration policies, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "Not the first time that Donald Trump and logic have been at odds." Trump's "arch-enemy and wedding guest" Hillary Clinton also made a cameo, reading from Fire and Fury, Colbert said. "Man, that must have made Trump so mad, to see Hillary showing off how she can read." U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley wasn't a fan of that bit, saying she wanted to keep politics out of music. Colbert listed some artists Haley must love, from Bob Dylan to N.W.A. "N.W.A. — I love their song 'No Comment on Tha Police,'" he deadpanned.
Trump has his own performance on Tuesday, his first State of the Union address. "He's not scheduled to appear in front of Congress again until the impeachment hearings," Colbert said, wistfully. "The administration wants to showcase what the country is like now that the Republicans are in charge of everything, and they may have done just that, because they sent out these actual tickets to see the 'State of the Uniom.'" Or maybe that wasn't a typo, Colbert mused.
Colbert turned to the reports that Trump tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Muller last summer, stopped only by his White House counsel and '80s cover-band guitarist, Don McGahn. Trump got plenty of heat for his attempted justice-obstructing, but "luckily, Trump could count on backup from his friend on the TV," Sean Hannity. "Sean, just one broadcaster to another," Colbert said, "if you want to change the subject away from Donald Trump, maybe don't go to footage that is so clearly a metaphor for his administration — just a car crash you can't tear your eyes away from." Colbert's "Real News Tonight" fake-news team paid homage to Hannity, and may have outdone him. Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump has now been in Davos at the World Economic Forum for a day, and Stephen Colbert ran through some highlights — telling Britain's Theresa May how warm their relationship is, making lots of confusing "table" references with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu. But "before Trump left for Davos, he surprised reporters — and this really was a surprise — they were waiting by John Kelly's office and he gave them an unplanned press conference," Colbert said. There were no cameras, "but we did get to hear the president make a stunning promise about the Russia investigation," saying he was looking forward to talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and specifically doing it under oath. "Incidentally, Doing it Under Oath is my favorite Stormy Daniels movie," Colbert said, slyly.
"The big story in Washington continues to be Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, and a lot of Republicans think it's compromised because of one FBI agent who was on Mueller's team," Colbert said. The big buzz this week was a text from the agent's girlfriend, an FBI lawyer, alluding to a "secret society." "Gotcha!" Colbert said, spritzing sarcasm. "Because when you're in a secret society, you always make sure to call it 'the secret society,' and you meet in a place with a big sign that says 'Secret Society Meeting,' and you have a secret handshake where we shake hands and whisper the word, 'secret.'"
Colbert explained that the text in question was a standalone reference to a "gag gift" involving Vladimir Putin-themed calendars, but some Republicans took it very seriously, notably Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Uncharacteristically, Colbert didn't find Johnson's going on TV "to willfully misinterpret a joke text to panic the public that the FBI is involved in a Deep State conspiracy to overthrow the president" particularly funny.
The Late Show did find some humor in the FBI "secret society" in its cold open, though. Sorry, Smash Mouth. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert, melding Trump scandals, asks what if 'Mueller doesn't take the $130,000 in hush money'
Stephen Colbert started Tuesday's Late Show with the big news about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, using a Keebler elf to imagine Attorney General Jeff Sessions' just-confirmed testimony. "This is huge, because it is the first time investigators have interviewed a member of Trump's Cabinet," Colbert noted. "Probably not the last." He made some jokes about former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Mueller, and pointed to breaking news that Mueller wants to interview Trump ASAP.
"This could be very bad for Trump, especially if Mueller doesn't take the $130,000 in hush money," Colbert joked, acting out why Trump's lawyers are nervous about letting Trump go under oath.
Democrats pretty clearly lost the government shutdown, thanks in part to the White House's brilliant "keep Trump contained" strategy, Colbert said, nevertheless pointing out some pitfalls of letting Trump watch the action play out on TV. Still, the shutdown was actually ended by a bipartisan group of moderate senators who worked out their differences using a "talking stick" imported from Africa, until things got a little out of hand, nearly ending the life of a glass elephant. "Wow, a heated discussion almost destroyed the symbol of the Republican Party," Colbert said. "I think the full details in this month's issue of Heavy Handed Metaphor Magazine."
Vice President Mike Pence is the latest figure to weigh in on allegations that Trump had an extramarital affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, saying he won't discuss the "baseless allegations" against Trump. "First of all, these are not baseless allegations — she says he rounded the bases," Colbert said. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins knows who Stormy Daniels is, but he gave Trump a "mulligan" on the affair. "Yes, a mulligan!" Colbert said. "Because marriage is like golf: both things Trump claims to love but constantly cheats on — allegedly." Watch below. Peter Weber
As Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation creeps closer to the White House, President Trump and his allies have increasingly been trying to delegitimize the entire investigation into Trump and his campaign's ties to Russia. One target, especially popular on the opinion side of Fox News, is the dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele in 2016. Trump has called it fake, though the FBI and Mueller reportedly take its allegations seriously, and the president and his allies have latched onto the fact that much of Steele's research was indirectly paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert and his team let the Steele dossier offer a rebuttal, kind of, taking words from the dossier to needle Trump and push back on his criticism. "So what if Clinton and the Democratic Party provided funding for this report," the dossier says, in computer voice. "The data is relevant regardless of who sponsored it." It bolstered its point with an analogy about a husband caught frequenting prostitutes thanks to cameras paid for by Hillary Clinton. And yes, there's a nod to Colbert's favorite part of the dossier. Watch below. Peter Weber
Donald Trump Jr. testified for eight hours in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, "making it the first time a Trump has put in a full day of work," Stephen Colbert joked on Thursday's Late Show. Don Jr. did not want to answer the House panel's questions about what role his father, President Trump, played in a false statement Trump Jr. put out to explain why he met with Kremlin-linked Russians in June 2016, so he cited attorney-client privilege, because there was a lawyer in the room. "Is that how it works?" Colbert asked. "Because if that's how it works, I'm going to rob a law firm. 'Alright, everybody, hands in the air! Remember, none of you can testify.'"
He suggested some other privileges Trump Jr. might have invoked — "father-son privilege, same-name privilege, white privilege" — then noted that the junior Trump has also apparently been lying about there being no follow-up emails to the Russia meeting, and those emails — uncovered by CNN — look pretty bad. Colbert pointed to one dealing with hacked DNC emails, from the guy who set up the Russia meeting with Trump Jr.: "That's like forwarding an article about arson and then saying, 'This is eerily weird, given that warehouse we torched five days ago.'"
Michael Flynn, Trump's now-cooperating-with-prosecutors former national security adviser, is also in the news for apparent collusion — reportedly texting a business colleague during Trump's inauguration that the Russia sanctions would be "ripped up" so a deal on nuclear plans in the Middle East with Russia was "good to go." "He was making secret Russia plans while Trump was being sworn in!" Colbert said. "That's like interrupting your wedding to text your mistress." Peter Weber