Late Night Tackles Trump and Trade
May 14, 2019

"Remember during the campaign in 2016 when the president said we're going to win so much we'd get tired of winning?" Stephen Colbert reminisced on Monday's Late Show. "Wall Street got there first." The stock markets dropped sharply Monday in response to the breakdown of China-U.S. trade talks. Colbert explained that negotiations derailed last week after China wouldn't commit to changing its laws and said it didn't want the deal's details released, just a summary. "Oh, really?" he said. "The White House is upset because China wants to release a summary?"

Colbert mocked Trump's "love collecting BIG TARIFFS" tweet with an homage to Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." "The president thinks he can outlast the Chinese because he sees tariffs as free money," Colbert said. "But — and, spoiler — Trump is lying" that China pays for the tariffs, as Chris Wallace got White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow to admit, eventually, on Fox News Sunday. Colbert put Kudlow's first gambit in perspective: "Yes, technically, one side pays the price, but both sides suffer. It's a bold marketing strategy. It reminds me of the ad campaign: 'Taco Bell: Everyone Will Suffer.'"

"Wallace continued to drag Kudlow kicking and screaming into reality," but Kudlow put up a struggle, asking if they could use "trade negotiation" instead of "trade war." No, Colbert answered. "I know why you want to change it, because it makes it seem less dangerous. There's a reason no one went to see Avengers: Infinity Negotiation."

China retaliated Monday by raising tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods, mostly hurting U.S. farmers. Meanwhile, Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods will raise prices for U.S. consumers on items such as dog callers, apparel made from reptile leather, mattress supports, and Christmas lights. "That's really going to hurt the holiday-themed sex dungeon industry," Colbert joked, with visual mockup. "And you know, thanks to Trump, we were finally moaning Merry Christmas again." Peter Weber

December 5, 2018

"You know how Donald Trump keeps on saying he's going to make America great again?" Stephen Colbert asked on Tuesday's Late Show. "Turns out the 'great' might be short for 'Great Depression,' because today the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 799.36 points — well, at least it wasn't 800," he joked. "It might have been Trump's fault, because it was," fueled by his fake news about a trade deal with China, Colbert said. "In fact, it was such a blatant lie, even Fox News, even the Fox & Friends weren't buying it."

"But what really made Wall Street S&P its pants is when Trump today admitted the deal isn't done," Colbert said, reading Trump's extended tweet storm, ending with his pronouncement that even if he can't reach a deal with China, it's no big deal because "I am a Tariff Man." Colbert then turned to "happier news," which for The Late Show means Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump and Russia. He focused on Michael Cohen's plea deals, in which, like a gambler with a nothing hand, he reportedly agreed to tell everything without a formal deal to escape jail time.

The Late Show also pilloried Trump's "Tariff Man" sobriquet with a 1950-style super hero parody. There's a surprise ending. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 15, 2018

"Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans suffered a major loss in Pennsylvania last night," with Democrat Conor Lamb beating Republican Rick Saccone in a district President Trump won by 20 points, Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. The White House says the election was "essentially a tie," Kimmel laughed, "but it's not a tie, it's a loss. If it was a tie, it would be scotch-taped to Donald Trump's shirt and manufactured in China."

A week earlier, Trump had "made a very blatant attempt to woo voters in Pennsylvania by calling for heavy tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel," Kimmel said. "Trump, as you know, wants to focus on America, American-made products and goods. And so I wondered, because I agree with that, how things were going on his family website," run by Trump sons Eric and Don. Jr.? "These guys are red, white, and blue to the core — they're like a couple of flags wearing hair gel," Kimmel said. So he logged on to the official Trump store, "and even though my wife was yelling at me the whole time I was on the site, saying, 'Don't order anything from that,' I ordered a bunch of stuff."

Kimmel brought out the box. Don Jr. included a nice thank you note, but most of the Trump-branded merch was made in — where else? — China. Two of the items — a gold bar piggy bank and a dog neckerchief — did not list a country of origin, however, which is illegal (at least if they were made abroad) and subject to steep penalties. "Trump's whole platform is about supporting American companies," Kimmel said. "His companies aren't even supporting America. You know what I'm going to do? I'm sure Eric and Don Jr. didn't know about this, I'm sure this was a simple oversight. I'll just file an official complaint and let them sort it out." Watch below. Peter Weber

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