Speed Reads

Late Night Tackles Trump Firing James Comey

Stephen Colbert explains how we know Trump fired James Comey to stop the Russia investigation

Stephen Colbert was caught by surprise at President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey right before Tuesday night's Late Show, and on Wednesday night's show he said he'd given the situation a lot of thought over the previous 24 hours. "We have reached a milestone as a nation, and it's not just that the president fired the head of the FBI," he said. "No, here's the milestone: We've apparently elected a president who truly does not care what anything looks like."

Colbert started with the firing of Comey, "which really feels like authoritarianism 101 — which, by the way, a very difficult class; the professor is a total Nazi," he quipped. "The question is, why did Trump do it? Now, while it looks like Donald Trump fired James Comey to stop the Russian investigation, that is why." What we've learned about Trump over the past two years is that "what it seems like he's doing is exactly what he's doing," Colbert said. "There's no grand strategy. He's not some puppet master, he's not some wizard playing 3-dimensional chess — he's playing 'Hungry Hungry Hippos.'"

Colbert read Trump's termination letter to Comey, where the president dubiously alleged that Comey told him he wasn't under investigation. "Did you catch that?" Colbert asked. "He's saying this is not about the Russia investigation in a letter firing Comey for the Russia investigation. That is clever — that is like carving your alibi on the murder weapon." He had started the show with some (fake) early drafts of Trump's letter.

Colbert noted the Watergate comparisons, and that Trump was shocked at the negative reaction, insisting on Twitter that after the furor calms down, everyone will thank him. Colbert took the bait: "All right, how should we thank him? We should get him something special — how about a special prosecutor?" He ended on a long, involved video riff on Anderson Cooper's impressively arch eye roll at Kellyanne Conway, a re-enactment of Sean Spicer hiding from reporters in the White House bushes, and a new Nancy Drew mystery. Watch below. Peter Weber