Late Night Tackles President Trump
January 16, 2019

"It is Day 25 of the government shutdown, which is great news for everyone whose New Year's resolution was lawless anarchy," Stephen Colbert joked on Tuesday's Late Show. But "it's been hard on government employees, particularly the president. His popularity had taken a nose dive," even on his favorite poll, Rasmussen. "He's cratering," Colbert said. "By the time the election rolls around, he could lose to the ticket of Chlamydia/Ted Cruz 2020."

Still, "at least one good thing has come out of the government shutdown: A giant pile of hamburgers," Colbert said. He reveled in the photo of Trump standing before the 300 hamburgers he bought for Clemson's champion football team. If Trump's using his pile of burgers to distract everyone from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and his tanking poll numbers, "I'm totally into it," Colbert said, especially if it comes with presidential tweets about serving "over 1,000 hamberders."

"That's right, 'hamberders,'" Jimmy Kimmel laughed on Kimmel Live. "How does that happen? The 'e' and the 'u' aren't even near each other on the keyboard! It's like in the middle of tweeting he had a stroke or something. Or is it possible he thought they were called 'hamberders' until today?" Before Trump took down the tweet, he was trolled by Burger King, among others, Kimmel noted. He trolled Trump, too, with a special person-on-the-street quiz. He also pointed out that Trump himself said he ordered 300 burgers, not 1,000. "He has to lie about everything, he can't help it," Kimmel said. "Or maybe he ate the other 700 hamberders himself."

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah found the whole burger-by-candlelight thing eerily on-brand: "If you combine any fancy thing with any garbage-y thing, that's Trump's style, right? McDonald's by candlelight, caviar in a porta-potty, him in the White House. It's just the mix. But I will say this: If the government shutdown means that Trump gets to eat cheeseburgers every night, then this thing is going to last forever." Watch below. Peter Weber

November 16, 2018

"President Trump has been spinning in a Tasmanian Devil-style rage this week," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. "As rumors of turmoil and tumult continue to swirl, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Special Counsel Robert Mueller," his "witch hunt," and his staff. "He always forgets we had real witch hunts in American history, in which they killed witches, but this is the biggest witch hunt, and Bob Mueller is moving on you like a witch," Kimmel said. Still, "what Donald Trump should be worried about" isn't Mueller, but Russian President Vladimir Putin's warm exchange with Vice President Mike Pence at an Asia-Pacific summit on Thursday. He narrated the video.

The Late Show kicked off with a different Trump conspiracy theory, showing a fake commercial to mock Trump's "nuts" idea that you need to voter ID card to buy cereal.

"With Trump in such a bad mood, no one is safe," not even Fox News host Sean Hannity, Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. "Apparently, Trump's close relationship with Hannity hasn't stopped the president from mocking the Fox News star behind his back for being such a suck-up. Does Hannity really suck up that much?" Colbert asked. It was a rhetorical question, but he played some clips anyway. Trump is reportedly so critical of Hannity he has been known to imitate his voice and mannerisms. "I would love to see Trump's impressions," Colbert said, trying out a few. The Nixon one got a little strange.

"This news about Hannity has sent shockwaves through our in-house, pro-Trump news team, Real News Tonight, who now don't know how to talk about the president," Colbert said. You can watch Jim Anchorton and Jill Newslady struggle that out below. Peter Weber

November 16, 2018

President Trump appears to be "pretty grumpy" these days, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "Reports are he's moping around the White House," apparently "pissed — at damn near everyone." Wow, Colbert said, "being president has really worn him down. Remember Inauguration Day, when he was so light-hearted and filled with joy?" (Colbert didn't either.) Another former Trump staffer said there's "a level of insanity I've never seen before" at the White House," and "keep in mind, this White House has seen Kanye," he noted.

Colbert listed some real and speculative reasons Trump is so upset, including the possibility son Don Jr. will be indicted and the lack of a grand parade in Paris. But "Trump's not just moping around the White House, he's also moping around the Twitter," he said, reading Trump's tweeted tirade against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Colbert suggested Trump was "transparently projecting his insecurities onto Robert Mueller," and demonstrated what that might look like.

At Late Night, Seth Meyers focused on Trump's "post-election funk as the blue wave that put Democrats in charge of the House keeps getting bigger." He made special note of how some of the House Democrats Trump has mocked for two years will soon have power to investigate his government and personal finances. "Damn," he said, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) "can subpoena his tax returns, his bank records — hell, she can subpoena the results of his IQ test."

"Trump knows that he'll be held accountable for his actions for the first time in two years, and as a result he's panicking," Meyers said. Watch that and his delightful cue-card incident below. Peter Weber

October 26, 2018

President Trump has to take responsibility for his words, "because when he talks, people listen — for instance, Chinese people," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show, pointing to the New York Times report about Chinese spies eavesdropping on Trump's iPhone calls. "So the Chinese spies know Trump's innermost thoughts — right before he tweets them," Colbert joked. Aides warn Trump that his iPhone isn't secure, but they're also pretty sure he's not sharing secrets with the Chinese and Russians "because he doesn't read the details of the intelligence he is shown" and isn't conversant in "the operational specifics of military or covert activities," the Times reports.

"That's the most reassuring answer you could come up with, that the president isn't a danger because he's too incompetent to know anything?" Colbert asked. "Naturally, Trump is furious at the insinuation that he has not given up his iPhone," and he tweeted any angry denial — from an iPhone, he noted. "Come on! That's like handing the judge your 'not guilty' plea by writing it on the murder weapon."

"Donald Trump had unprotected sex with a porn star — you think he's worried about unsecured cellphones?" Jimmy Kimmel asked on Kimmel Live. He also noted that the "guy who won't let the fact that Hillary used a private email server go has chats with his shady business buddies on a Jitterbug phone he bought at CVS." Kimmel had an exasperated laugh over Trump's tweeted denial, too: "He tweeted about rarely using a cellphone from a cellphone! I mean, he may not be a good president, but he is the LeBron James of internet trolls."

Kimmel Live also recreated a school that actually exists for Russian internet trolls trying to divide American into chaotic doom.

And The Late Show channeled Patton to archly comment on Trump sending U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Watch that below. Peter Weber

October 24, 2018

President Trump's "favorite midterms talking point" is about "a group of Central American migrants fleeing north to safety — aka, the caravan!" Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. Lately, Trump "has made up some caravan origin story fan fiction," he explained, with hand gestures. "Not everything Trump has said about this caravan is true — for instance, any of it." Reporters in southern Mexico, for example, say no one has seen "Middle Eastern" people in the "scareavan," and Trump later acknowledged "there's no proof of anything, but they could very well be."

"Look, I understand believing in something without any proof," Colbert said. "For instance, I believe in God, even though the fact that he allowed Donald Trump to become president is evidence He does not exist." He went on to look at Trump's shifting views on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia's historically bad cover-up — though Colbert found a worse cover-up, in a manner of speaking.

"It's not just the caravan and the obvious murder of a Washington Post journalist Trump is fibbing about, and the press has noticed the lies," Colbert said. "And the strangest lie Donald Trump has told about this is his made-up middle class tax cut." He noted that, among other problems with Trump's plan, Congress is not in session to even pass his floated "resolution" on cutting taxes. Colbert brought it home: "Congress isn't in D.C.? Where did Congress go? Could they be in — the caravan?" Watch that, plus a bunch of movie characters yelling about lies and a joke about "terror penguins" ("They exist, they exist, they're known as Ice-is") below. Peter Weber

October 24, 2018

"With the midterms bearing down on us like an angry buffalo, yesterday the president had an important message," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, indulging in a little wistful sleight of hand. But President Trump had some stuff to say, too. "Our wicked step-president also held a rally yesterday," Colbert joked. "He was in Houston to support Sen. Ted Cruz, so of course he talked about himself."

Specifically, Trump claimed the title "nationalist" for himself. There are lots of historical reasons to avoid adopting that term, but Colbert had a Trump-specific one: "You know why you're not supposed to use that word? Because it's the second half of 'white nationalist.' Chopping off the first word doesn't change what it means in our minds. 'Oh, look, look, I'm a Klux Klan, I have no idea which one!'" Trump also trotted out his definition of "globalism," and Colbert had some questions: "He does realize America is on the globe, right?" he asked, imitating Trump asking people to wake him up "when it's America warming," not the global variety.

"The president did lend a tiny hand at a rally for Ted Cruz," but "that had to be the saddest phone call Ted Cruz ever had to make," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. "I mean, imagine if your neighbor insulted your wife's face, and then you had to ask him to loan you a weed-whacker. That's Ted Cruz's life right now. Look at them — he's bowing his head. It's like the devil making a deal with the devil." To rub it in, Kimmel Live created an unkind new campaign commercial for Cruz.

On Tuesday's Late Night, Seth Meyers turned a Trump press conference into an opportunity to ask his own questions — not all of which are appropriate for work — and get his own answers. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 23, 2018

President Trump was in Texas on Monday to rally for the man he used to call "Lyin' Ted" Cruz. But that was then, in 2016. "Trump is so close to Cruz now, he's even pretending to unveil a new nickname for him," Stephen Colbert laughed on Monday's Late Show. "'Beautiful Ted'? Really? Somewhere, Ted Nugent is weeping over his assault rifle. 'I thought I was Beautiful Ted. Wango saddo.'

"And there's more random cruelty from the Trump administration coming down the pike," Colbert said. "This time they spun the Wheel of Discrimination and they landed on transgender." The Trump administration says its proposed change, to recognize people only by their birth genitalia, rests "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science." Colbert threw up his hands: "Oh, now you care about science! Wow, how convenient." He poked a little fun at himself and his Lord of the Rings obsession: "Gender is clearly a spectrum, okay? We know this. For instance, I identify as a man, but it's a little fluid. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and repairing boats; then again, my favorite book is about elves and jewelry."

Colbert ended on the "obvious and shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey," and he wasn't buying Saudi Arabia's belated story that their agents killed Khashoggi accidentally, in a spontaneous brawl. "Saudi Arabia's excuses are so lame that they're being doubted by even the most gullible people, like Donald Trump," he said. But even as he shows some skepticism of the Saudi version of events, Trump insists he doesn't want to cancel weapons deals with Saudi Arabia "because he's protecting America's jobs," Colbert said. "How many jobs? You won't believe how many." Literally, Trump's numbers are unbelievable. Says who? "As Trump put it, 'fake news' from the 'Failing White House,'" Colbert surmised. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 3, 2018

"Donald Trump has always sold himself as something of a self-made man who built an empire out of nothing but a dream and hard work, and a loan from his dad," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. But it turns out even that "small loan of $1 million" — which, Colbert joked, is "barely enough to silence eight porn stars" — was just a tiny fraction of the $413 million Trump got from his father over the years, according to a blockbuster New York Times investigation. "In order to hide the money from the IRS — which is a crime — Fred Trump had been funneling money to his children for years," he recounted, and Donald Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today's dollars by the time he turned 3.

"So let me get this straight," Colbert said. "At one point, Donald Trump was an extraordinarily wealthy toddler, and today — he is still that."

"You're not going to believe this," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live, but "Donald Trump isn't a self-made millionaire after all." His audience reacted accordingly. "He's not just a con man," he added, pointing to Trump's 3-year-old allowance, "he was a con baby first. He was a millionaire, Donald Trump — on his own — by the time he was 8 years old. But he earned that money — he ate every piece of broccoli on his plate." And he was reportedly getting millions of dollars a year from his dad through his 50s, Kimmel said.

Trump's lawyer called the Times' more serious allegations of tax fraud and evasion "false" and "extremely inaccurate," and Kimmel had an idea: "Gee, if there only was a way to know for sure, maybe some sort of a tax return that could be released or something to clear this all up?"

You can learn more about the Times report from one of the reporters who broke the story, in the CNN interview below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads