×
Late Night Tackles the Trump Administration
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

June 26, 2018

President Trump's immigration policies "are making tempers flare all over the country," and that cost White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders a meal out on Friday, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "Look, applaud all you want, but my heart really goes out to her. She was separated from her appetizer. She doesn't even know where it is right now. What if it's getting cold?" He explained what happened — Sanders and her husband went out to eat with friends, and when the staff recognized her, the owner had them vote on what to do, and they politely booted her, after a free cheese-plate appetizer. "Oh good, so somebody's getting due process," Colbert deadpanned.

"I believe everyone should follow their own conscience, and I can understand why some people might celebrate this restaurant owner doing this," Colbert said. "But denying service to people you don't agree with is a slippery slope, because pretty soon we would just have liberal-only restaurants and conservative-only restaurants, and it will be a nightmare finding a place where your whole family can eat." He made an import tariff joke, then proposed "a middle road. Restaurant workers, you don't have to kick out Sarah Huckabee Sanders, just treat her the same way she treats her customers: Only take the order of the two people at the table you like, then tell Sanders, 'I'm not going to comment on whether this dish contains peanuts,' and then when the food never arrives, just say, 'I haven't talked to the chef about that yet, so I can't give you any new information. I'll be back at 2:45 tomorrow with a completely different menu that you can't order from.'"

Of course, Sanders isn't the only Trump administration official having trouble eating out protest-free. So The Late Show offered all beleaguered White House officials a movable-feast dining option, complete with "skid bag." Watch below. Peter Weber

June 8, 2018

It can be hard to keep up with all the scandals swirling around EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who is currently the subject of 13 federal investigations. The Late Show has a quick rundown masquerading as a movie trailer.

"The thing that is so shocking about Pruitt's latest round of scandals is that they're so damn petty," including spending more than $3,000 on pens and having an aide try to acquire a used Trump hotel mattress for him, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday night's show. "Well, finally answering the question, 'How does Scott Pruitt sleep at night?' It turns out: in other people's filth." He ran through some other scandals, with commentary, and ended with Pruitt's government-funded forays for moisturizer and a Silence of the Lambs clip.

It's shocking that Pruitt's scandals "haven't come from him trying to destroy the environment," but rather "his little side hustles," Trevor Noah added at The Daily Show. "Normally when you find out about corruption in D.C., it's the kind of corruption that makes you mad — you know, 'Millions in bribes!' But with every new Pruitt revelation, every time you find out, you go, 'Wait, what?'" Like Pruitt trying to officially hustle a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife: "You're the head of a major government agency, with influence over some of the biggest corporations in the world, and you decide to abuse your position to get your wife a chicken store," he said. "It's like he's Thanos and he's using the Infinity Gauntlet to cut the line at Disney World."

But Pruitt is "finding little grifts all over Washington," and once you realize that he's just extraordinarily cheap, Noah said, "all his other weird scandals start to make more sense." When Pruitt is finally fired, it won't be for ruining the environment, he predicted. "He'll go down doing what he loves," something like "stuffing his pockets with White House toilet paper." Peter Weber

June 7, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) canceled the Senate's August recess, blaming "unprecedented obstruction." Stephen Colbert agreed. "Damn right! It has been over two years — it is time to confirm Merrick Garland!" he said on Wednesday's Late Show, shaking his head that the audience doesn't even remember the Supreme Court nominee McConnell stonewalled. "Somewhere Obama is weeping," he said. And when President Trump tweet-celebrated, Colbert felt compelled to remind him Democrats aren't in charge.

Senate Republicans say they were afraid Trump would sabotage them if they left for August, hurting their chances in the midterms. "So Trump can't be left unsupervised?" Colbert asked. "They're treating the president of the United States like you would a dog near sandwiches." And with the departure of White House communications aide Kelly Sadler, "there are fewer people to dog-sit him," he added. He read Sadler's infamous leaked quote about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) "dying anyway," then deadpanned, "Wow, a quote like that is really bad for Kelly Sadler's political career, but it doesn't matter, it's dying anyway."

Sadler may not even be fired, according to Kellyanne Conway — who Colbert introduced with a sassy Dorian Gray joke — because Trump can use Sadler's skills elsewhere in the administration. "Well, her only known skill is mocking John McCain," Colbert said, "so ... president?" But he was immensely amused by Conway calling Trump "the commander of cheese." "That's not a slip of the tongue," he said. "That would be 'the commander in cheese.' The commander of cheese is an entirely different position — one, I will admit, Trump is qualified for. I mean, after all, he did win Wisconsin." He saw Conway's rhyming and raised her one.

You can watch The Late Show's "commander of cheese" reply to Conway below. Peter Weber

May 16, 2018

"The Trump White House has been plagued by incessant leaks, and judging by his tweets, the president has had enough," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. President Trump is particularly incensed about the latest big leak, the comment from a staffer about Sen. John McCain "dying anyway," because "it's made the White House look even worse than usual," Noah said, briefly running through the history of the Trump-McCain feud, ending on McCain requesting that Trump skip his funeral.

That's "the highest level of dis possible, to uninvite someone to something you're technically not really gonna be at," Noah laughed. "Personally, I would want Trump at my funeral, because I know that he'd hate being at an event that wasn't about him. You know, he'd be like, 'I can be in a hole, too, folks! I was also dead — they said I was dead, folks, 270 Electoral College votes, but I got them!'"

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a meeting to chastise staffers for leaking, and of course it immediately leaked. "So now, the leakers are leaking leaks about a meeting about what leaked," Noah said. "This is like in a relationship when you're having an argument about how much you argue." But not only is the White House not apologizing about the comment, killing the story; they won't even talk about it. "I understand what's happening here," Noah said. "In Trump's world, if you apologize, you're admitting that it happened, and for Trump, that's a sign of weakness. But here's the thing: Just because it wasn't meant to get out doesn't mean you can expect everyone to act like it didn't happen. That's not how this works." He illustrated his point by trying Sanders' tactic in a hypothetical court of law.

In Late Night's choose-your-own-response press briefing, Seth Meyers got a different kind of leaking answer out of Sanders. Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads