As Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation creeps closer to the White House, President Trump and his allies have increasingly been trying to delegitimize the entire investigation into Trump and his campaign's ties to Russia. One target, especially popular on the opinion side of Fox News, is the dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele in 2016. Trump has called it fake, though the FBI and Mueller reportedly take its allegations seriously, and the president and his allies have latched onto the fact that much of Steele's research was indirectly paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert and his team let the Steele dossier offer a rebuttal, kind of, taking words from the dossier to needle Trump and push back on his criticism. "So what if Clinton and the Democratic Party provided funding for this report," the dossier says, in computer voice. "The data is relevant regardless of who sponsored it." It bolstered its point with an analogy about a husband caught frequenting prostitutes thanks to cameras paid for by Hillary Clinton. And yes, there's a nod to Colbert's favorite part of the dossier. Watch below. Peter Weber
Donald Trump Jr. testified for eight hours in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, "making it the first time a Trump has put in a full day of work," Stephen Colbert joked on Thursday's Late Show. Don Jr. did not want to answer the House panel's questions about what role his father, President Trump, played in a false statement Trump Jr. put out to explain why he met with Kremlin-linked Russians in June 2016, so he cited attorney-client privilege, because there was a lawyer in the room. "Is that how it works?" Colbert asked. "Because if that's how it works, I'm going to rob a law firm. 'Alright, everybody, hands in the air! Remember, none of you can testify.'"
He suggested some other privileges Trump Jr. might have invoked — "father-son privilege, same-name privilege, white privilege" — then noted that the junior Trump has also apparently been lying about there being no follow-up emails to the Russia meeting, and those emails — uncovered by CNN — look pretty bad. Colbert pointed to one dealing with hacked DNC emails, from the guy who set up the Russia meeting with Trump Jr.: "That's like forwarding an article about arson and then saying, 'This is eerily weird, given that warehouse we torched five days ago.'"
Michael Flynn, Trump's now-cooperating-with-prosecutors former national security adviser, is also in the news for apparent collusion — reportedly texting a business colleague during Trump's inauguration that the Russia sanctions would be "ripped up" so a deal on nuclear plans in the Middle East with Russia was "good to go." "He was making secret Russia plans while Trump was being sworn in!" Colbert said. "That's like interrupting your wedding to text your mistress." Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert isn't surprised Trump assaults Mother Nature, but he's shocked someone punished Russia
On Tuesday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert noted that President Trump is going all-out to support accused teen molester Roy Moore, but "he's also been assaulting Mother Nature," Colbert said. On Monday, Trump announced that he will slash the size of two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. "It's reasonable that he doesn't care about them," Colbert said. "They're just national monuments, they're not Confederate monuments."
So Trump is "opening millions of acres of protected land to strip-mining, but on the bright side, 'Escalante' is the first time he's ever spoken Spanish (if you don't count 'taco bowl')," Colbert said. Native Americans aren't so amused, since the national monuments contain an estimate 100,000 native cultural and archaeological sites, and they're suing. "You know, if Trump ahead with this plan, I'm worried that Native Americans will stop trusting the federal government," Colbert deadpanned.
Colbert was less perturbed by the news that the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Games over its doping scandal, but he was surprised: "That is shocking — Russia was punished for interfering with the results of something?"
Speaking of Russia, former Trump campaign chairman "Paul Manafort wants the court to relax the conditions of his house arrest, but unfortunately for Paul Manafort, Paul Manafort is an idiot," Colbert said, pointing to the op-ed he apparently ghostwrote, in violation of the terms of his incarceration. "Of course, the main thing Manafort needs to do is distance himself from any connections to Russia," he added. "So, naturally, his collaborator was a 'long-time Russian colleague ... who is currently based in Russia and ... [has] ties to a Russian intelligence service.' Manafort is so tied to Russia, he's gonna get banned from the Olympics." Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert celebrated an early Christmas on Monday's Late Show, thanks to Special Counsel Robert Muller's gift last Friday of a plea deal for President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn. "He is singing like a canary — well, actually more like an angry shaved eagle," Colbert said. "Yes, Flynn is turning on his old friends. It's like the old saying goes, 'Snitches get significant time off their federal prison sentence.'" The Trump official who should probably be the most worried is Jared Kushner, who reportedly ordered Flynn to call Russian officials.
Worse for Trump, Flynn might have been wearing a wire. And Trump compounded his troubles by tweeting what appears to be an admission of obstruction of justice. Nobody really believes the story that Trump lawyer John Dowd "wrote a tweet in the voice of his client, without the client's permission or knowledge, and said tweet indicts the client for obstruction of justice," Colbert said. Dowd's counterargument is that Trump can't technically commit obstruction of justice. "Or, as Nixon famously said: 'When the president does it, it's not illegal. ... Also, if you're using the same defense as me, you're totally screwed because I was a crook.'"
Colbert ended with a fake TV ad for lawyers who one-up Dowd's legal "malpractice" and apparent willingness to take the fall for a client.
Trump also tweeted his endorsement for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore on Monday, and criticized Democrat Doug Jones as "a Pelosi/Schumer puppet." Moore, of course, has been credibly accused of dating and fondling teenage girls as young as 14. "Nobody wants a puppet in the Senate," Colbert said. "But if Moore gets elected, they will need a few more of those 'show me where they touched you' dolls." He ended with some of the juicer tales from former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's new book. Watch below. Peter Weber
Jimmy Fallon, more an entertainer than political comedian, has apparently been hurt in the ratings by his lack of political comedy in the target-rich presidency of Donald Trump. On Monday's Tonight Show, Fallon got pretty political on Trump, but in his own way, playing to his strengths by impersonating Bruce Springsteen singing a modified version of the Boss classic "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." You can get a gist from the first line: "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not lie to the FBI — Robert Mueller's coming to town." It gets punchier from there, with a Fallon smile.
On Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert was Stephen Colbert, but he was running with a similar idea. "It feels like Christmas is here, courtesy of Robert Mueller coming down the White House chimney with a sack full of subpoenas," he said. Colbert even got Trump an early Christmas present, he said, adding, "I just hope they're not too big on you." In case you need context for all this Mueller-as-Santa jubilation, Colbert provided that background, too — Michael Flynn is cooperating with Mueller's investigation. And Colbert also had a Christmas carol, for Mueller's possible next target. Watch below. Peter Weber
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) December 5, 2017
President Trump's 2016 campaign is having an increasingly difficult time arguing there was not at least attempted collusion with Russia, but "one thing the campaign has been consistent and adamant about: They had absolutely no contact with WikiLeaks," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "It's an insulting question! And you can take that to the bank — because I think that's where they met with WikiLeaks."
On Monday, it emerged that Donald Trump Jr. had been in semi-regular contact with WikiLeaks during the campaign, and even though he didn't always DM them back, Trump Sr. tweeted out a message similar to one WikiLeaks had sent Trump Jr. just 15 minutes earlier. "I can't prove that Donald Trump Jr. called his father, but like they say, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, the duck is colluding with the Russians," Colbert said. And Don Jr. "isn't the only one implicated," because after the first message from WikiLeaks, he emailed Stephen Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Jared Kushner to inform them of the contact, Colbert said. "And in keeping with Don Jr.'s strategy of not knowing when to shut up, yesterday, after the story broke, he tweeted out the full conversation."
Don Jr. DMed WikiLeaks back three times, Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. "My favorite part of the story is his is first response to WikiLeaks," which started with "Off the record," Kimmel said. "Now, this is WikiLeaks. If the word 'leaks' is right in the name, there's no 'off the record' with them." Then "WikiLeaks" paid Kimmel a visit and clarified their relationship with Don Jr. in the creepiest way. Watch below. Peter Weber
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
Chris Matthews tells Stephen Colbert that Mueller will take down Trump. Bernie Sanders says don't count on it.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday's Late Show that Monday's legal actions against three of President Trump's former campaign officials could be the beginning of the end, comparing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to a neat version of Peter Falk's Columbo character. "I think the guy's slowly going to build his case against the Trump enterprise, the entire Trump enterprise, starting with the guy who opened up relations with Russia" and moving up, he said. "It's going to be a slow, inevitable process of developing the closure between the Trump people and the Russians."
In his 50 years in journalism and politics, "I've never met a Russian, I've never had anything to do with a Russian," Matthews said, but with the Trump campaign, Russian ties turn up everywhere. "This is the strangest administration." Then Matthews and Colbert discussed, emotionally, Bobby Kennedy.
On Monday's Late Night, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that the day's indictments of Trump campaign officials were "a major step forward" in Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation, "but I worry very much about the attacks that we're seeing every day in a variety of ways, not only from the Russians, on American democracy." He mentioned Trump's attacks on the Constitution and media, corruption from weakened campaign finance laws, and Republican voter suppression efforts.
Seth Meyers suggested that Mueller's investigation won't bring down Trump anytime soon, and Sanders agreed, saying progressives should focus on "bread and butter issues," not just democracy threats. "Americans are not staying up every day worrying about Russians, Russia's interference in our election," he said. "They're wondering how they're going to be able to send their kids to college. They're worried about how they're going to be able to pay the rent." Watch below. Peter Weber