Speed Reads

Late Night Tackles Trump and Russia

Stephen Colbert tries to talk tax cuts, gets derailed by the Lion King remake, Paul Manafort as a Bond villain

The House Republican plan to completely overhaul the U.S. tax system is the biggest story of the day — "or it would be if we hadn't just learned that Beyoncé will be starring in the new Lion King," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show, excitement real but priorities arguably out of whack. And John Oliver as Zazu the hornbill? "Perfect," Colbert said. "He already looks like a British parrot."

President Trump wants to pass tax reform, but he really just wants to pass anything to get the Russia scandal out of the news, Colbert said. His indicted former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for example, was acting like a spy this year, with three passports with different numbers and a phone and email address with fake names. We don't know his fake name, but his password was reportedly "bond007," Colbert said. "His catchphrase? Bond, can someone please post bond, I don't want to go to jail." He added that Manafort looks less like a secret agent and more like a Bond villain, "Putin Galore," in From Russia With Cash.

The investigation is starting to spook the Trump White House however, and the heat is getting so intense that Stephen Bannon is reportedly urging Trump to defund Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. "Oh come on, Mueller does not need your money," Colbert said. "Trump is so unpopular, Mueller could fund his investigation with an open guitar case."

Colbert made a joke about Trump claiming to The New York Times that he's not under investigation — it ends with a Mueller-organized surprise party and some unconventional gifts. Lest that sound too negative, Colbert ended with a pep talk for an America that tells pollsters this is the lowest point in American history that it can remember. You might learn something. Peter Weber