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Late Night Tackles Trump and Russia
January 29, 2019

"The U.S. government reopened on Friday afternoon, but the FBI was already on the job at the crack of dawn," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. "That's right, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has now charged a sixth associate of Donald Trump. This time it was Roger Stone, personal adviser to the president and what Mike Pence would look like after one drink."

This indictment looks pretty bad for Stone and President Trump, but it's also "really interesting" to watch the outrage from their supporters on Fox News over the FBI's show of force, given how they shrug off police excesses against black people, Noah said. Honestly, "I agree with Roger Stone" that "the amount of force the police used to arrest him did seem excessive," Noah said. "But I also don't blame the cops. They were just following orders from the top. ... Poor Trump: He thought rough policing would only apply to MS-13. Who knew they would also be using it on the MAGA 6?"

The Late Show had a COPS-inspired reminder of some of those arrests, and playfully forecast the next FBI raid.

"Remember, Trump brags that he only hires the best people, calls the Russia investigation a hoax, calls CNN fake news, and his government shutdown left FBI agents without pay," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "So it was especially ironic when one of Trump's closes associates by unpaid FBI agents working for the special counsel in the Russia investigation, and the whole thing was caught on tape by CNN." Also, he added, "imagine being such an a--hole that FBI agents will come into work and arrest you for free."

Still, there's a logic being Stone's audacious complaints about the FBI's treatment, Meyers argued. "Stone is obviously angling for a pardon from Trump, who has shown a willingness to praise witnesses who refuse to cooperate and attack those who do." He also made copious fun of Stone's outfits. Watch below. Peter Weber

January 18, 2019

The government shutdown hit Day 27 on Thursday, and The Late Show noted some of the real-world consequences.

One thing President Trump likes about this record government shutdown, though, "is that there's a chance it might make you forget, for a little while, that there's this thing called the Russia investigation," Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. But with the news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sending internal polling data to a likely Russian agent, "the links to Russia are wrapping around Trump like a boa constrictor around a Florida grandpa."

So it's newsworthy — as well as entertaining — that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani "basically went on TV and admitted that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia," Colbert said. "That is so shocking — you saw it — he shocked himself when he heard him say it." Colbert tried to imitate Giuliani's crazy eyes, then animated his eyeballs fleeing his head. "Now, that looks bad, but only if we're going to start counting evidence as proof," he deadpanned. "Rudy's comments are just another example of the Trump team moving the goal posts," sometimes "to a whole different sport: 'It's a hole in touchdown, you're out!'"

Colbert also recapped the crazy story of Michael Cohen paying to rig polls for Trump, and for a vanity Twitter account: "So he paid fake women to say nice things. That's refreshing — usually he pays real women to say nothing."

"Remember when Trump said he would run the country like a business?" Jimmy Kimmel asked on Kimmel Live. "Turns out the business was Radio Shack. Trump is desperately trying to pin blame for this shutdown on Democrats. He lashed out this morning, he wrote: 'The Left has become totally unhinged. They no longer care what is Right for our Countrty.' That's right, you see how he spelled it — he's just as good at spelling 'country' as he is at running it." Watch below. Peter Weber

January 18, 2019

President Trump "appears to be on a collusion course with the law right now, and his alleged lawyer Rudy Giuliani was back on CNN last night and Rudier than ever," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. If we didn't have video of his "crazy appearance on Chris Cuomo's show," it would "almost be too much to believe." Giuliani claimed incorrectly that he'd never said there was no collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia, so either there's "another Rudy Giuliani out there," Kimmel said, or Giuliani's lying — again. "Poor Rudy. Someday he's going to be in a mental facility telling the nurses that he used to be the mayor of New York and they'll be like, 'Uh-huh.'"

Kimmel also had some fun with the story about Trump ordering fixer Michael Cohen to hire a guy to rig some online polls, Cohen paying him a fraction of the cash in a Walmart bag, then hiring him to create a @WomenforCohen account. "I may have underestimated Michael Cohen," he said. "He might be a lot more hilarious than I ever imagined."

"It's crazy that Michael Cohen was rigging polls for Trump while Trump was out there complaining that the polls were rigged," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "But one place where there's definitely no collusion is between Rudy Giuliani's brain and his mouth." He showed the clip: "Did Giuliani just admit that there was collusion? I think he did, and look at their faces. Like, neither of them can believe what just happened." Maybe Giuliani's antics are intentional, Noah mused. "Maybe the master plan is to keep creating so many new scandals that Robert Mueller can never finish his investigation."

"It really does seem like the pressure of the job is getting to Rudy," giving the latest of his "trademark accidental confessions," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. He ran through Giuliani's ever-shifting collusion story. "If this keeps going, Rudy is going to be telling Trump, 'It's not jail, it's a gated community.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

January 15, 2019

"It's not every day that you can say: 'Hey, did you see the big story about Trump being an agent of the Russian government over the weekend? No, not that story, the other one,'" Stephen Colbert noted on Monday's Late Show. He began with the New York Times bombshell about the FBI opening a counterintelligence investigation of recently inaugurated President Trump to see if he was secretly working for Russia. "I think that's ridiculous," Colbert said. "There is nothing secret about it, he's just putting it out there."

"I've been talking about Trump laying footsie with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin since July of 2016, back at the Republican Convention, but when you look at the details, it's still shocking," Colbert said. He created a new game show, "Evil or Stupid?" to game out whether Trump was a Russian spy or "unwitting stooge" of the Kremlin. (America loses either way.)

The idea that Trump is "a secret Russian spy" is "just crazy — and not because he wouldn't do it," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "Donald Trump would be the world's worst spy." First, "he doesn't even have an inside voice," and he can't "blend in. Red tie, orange skin, blond hair — the only place he'd blend in is a jar of Starbursts." Still, "it doesn't help his case" when he does "shady" stuff like hide his chats with Putin.

Telling your interpreter to not discuss what you told Putin is "not normal," Jimmy Kimmel agreed on Kimmel Live. "Usually when Trump wants to keep someone quiet he pays them $130,000." Still, "of course he's not working for Russia — he's being blackmailed by Russia, there's a difference," Kimmel said. This really has "turned into a witch hunt," he added, "as in, 'Which hunt are you talking about? The collusion, the obstruction, the treason, the corruption, or the tax evasion?"

Late Night's Seth Meyers listed some likely reasons why the FBI was suspicious Trump might be a Russian puppet, ending with "Vladimir Putin's smile every time he sees Trump. I mean, look at that: That's the smile Putin gives when someone says, 'We have captured James Bond.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

January 10, 2019

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort inadvertently revealed in a court filing unsealed Tuesday that in 2016, he'd sent internal polling data to a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, "providing the clearest evidence to date that the Trump campaign tried to coordinate with Russians," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Prior to this, the clearest evidence was ... everything else." Manafort's legal team revealed this by accident, he added. "His lawyers are terrible! How did Trump not hire them?"

Colbert took some liberties with how Manafort's team messed up redacting the PDF: "They thought they blacked out all the text — turns out they just did it directly onto the screen," with a Sharpie. And he was less-than-sympathetic to Manafort's excuse.

At The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was at least sympathetic to the technical difficulties that befell the Manafort legal team — up to a point. "Two things: In his defense, I don't know if you guys have ever tried to edit a PDF, that sh-t is hard," he said on Tuesday's show. "And then the other thing, I was like: But Paul Manafort, you should know how to edit or redact a PDF. Like, you were colluding with Russia, surely you could figure out how to collude with Kinkos." He went on to muse about how "the greatest criminals who pulled of the greatest 'crime,' in a way, are also the dumbest criminals of all time," and Donald Trump Jr. made a cameo. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 29, 2018

On Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team filed a court document suggesting President Trump's former campaign vice chairman Rick Gates was "directly communicating in September and October 2016" with an unidentified person who he knew "has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. That person matches the description of Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked with Gates when he was lobbying for Ukrainian politicians in Kiev. "Really? Kilimnik?" Colbert said. "If you're a Russian operative, you might want to go by something less suspicious. Maybe try Sergei Murderov."

"So my question is: Is it collusion yet?" Colbert asked. "Gates was Trump's deputy campaign chairman who stayed on through the inauguration, knowingly met with a Russian spy in the months leading up to the election. What more evidence do we need? Donald Trump in a T-shirt saying 'I Colluded With the Russians and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt — and the Presidency'?"

"So the president almost definitely colluded with Russia," Colbert said. "But there's equally important news out there — Tiffany Haddish says somebody bit Beyoncé." You can watch him unpack that mystery below. Peter Weber

March 26, 2018

In a strange confluence of shared interest, Fox News and late-night TV have both glommed on to the most salacious and least likely to be corroborated part of the dossier former British spy Christopher Steele compiled on President Trump and Russia. So of course Stephen Colbert's Late Show noticed when the hosts of Fox & Friends started calling the Steele dossier the "dirty dossier," presumably a reference to the unsubstantiated allegation involving prostitutes and urine. A blander and more corporate dossier might be offended at being labeled "dirty," but Colbert's anthropomorphized dossier — which speaks using only words and phrases found in the dossier — took the slight and ran with it, stand-up comedy style. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 21, 2018

Last week, lawyers for President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller sat down to discuss which topics investigators could ask Trump about, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, showing an artist's rendition of what Trump's lawyers asked for: "They will allow questions on the 2016 electoral map and noises trucks make, but nothing about Stormy's bathing suit area or 'Vlad stuff.'" Trump is also shaking up his legal team, Colbert added, introducing viewers to former U.S. attorney, Fox News regular, and new Trump lawyer Joe diGenova.

Another Trump lawyer, John Dowd, might be leaving because, according to The New York Times, he has concluded he has "no control over the behavior of the president." "You just figured that out?" Colbert asked. "Come on, man, Trump doesn't even have control over Trump's behavior." He mourned the thought of Trump sacking his other lawyer, Ty Cobb, and had a wry laugh at Ivanka Trump's turn as a vape-lab analyst in Iowa.

Meanwhile, "on Sunday, Vladimir Putin won an election rigged to prop up a dangerous strongman who is threatening Western democracy," Colbert said. "That requires a strong response — so Donald Trump called him up to say, 'Atta boy!'" Among those unhappy "that Trump was giving the thumbs-up to a murderous dictator for winning a sham election" were his national security team and a bipartisan group of senators — including Sen. John McCain (R), who slammed Trump for insulting "every Russian citizen denied the right to vote in a free and fair election." Colbert had some words of consolation — "Don't worry, Sen. McCain, the Russians still have a chance to vote in our midterm!" — and a creative way to paper over the fact that former President Barack Obama also congratulated Putin on his similarly shady 2012 win. Watch below. Peter Weber

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