Late Night Tackles the Manafort Trial
August 8, 2018

Stephen Colbert began Tuesday's Late Show by wishing Special Counsel Robert Mueller a happy birthday. "Blow out the candles and make our wish," he said, wistfully. Mueller's team is "hammering" Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, and "Manafort is getting buried on the witness stand" by his former partner and protege, Rick Gates, Colbert said, though Gates confessed some crimes of his own — committed both with and against Manafort. On Tuesday, Gates detailed how Manafort allegedly evaded paying taxes, used the phrase WTF, and apparently tried to reward $16 million in bank "loans" with a job as Trump's Army secretary.

But things got "real Law & Order-y" when Manafort's lawyer cross-examined Gates, getting him to admit to ... an extramarital affair 10 years ago, Colbert said. "Oh my God! That's all they've got on him? Our president has had multiple extramarital affairs — that's how he met two-thirds of his wives!" He went on to examine the continuing fallout from Trump's Russia meeting "tweetfession," Rudy Giuliani's cigarette-fueled Twitter feud with Fox News "moron" Jonah Goldberg, and Donald Trump Jr.'s strategically muted chat with Laura Ingraham.

As Manafort's longtime right-hand man, Gates "knows where the bodies are buried," and he's digging them up, Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Every moment that Gates was on the stand, things just got worse and worse" for his ex-boss. "Manafort must have been so mad, but also at the same time so proud," he said. "Because on the one hand, Gates stole money from him, but on the other hand he clearly learned everything that Manafort taught him."

"So as it stands, Mueller seems to have a tight case, Manafort's partner in crime has turned on him," and the biggest outstanding question is: "Why isn't Manafort snitching on Trump?" Noah asked. "It turns out Manafort has a plan-afort." It involves a pardon. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 7, 2018

MSNBC's Chris Hayes doesn't understand his fellow journalists who set alerts for President Trump's increasingly frequent tweets, he told Stephen Colbert on Monday's Late Show. "It sometimes feels like we're all pigeons or rats in some stimulus response experiment that he's running," Hayes said. Trump's increasingly frenetic tweetstorms are a sign of fraying nerves, he suggested, but they're also "like bad Jedi mind tricks, where he feels like if he gets in front of you, he can change your mind about something."

Colbert asked Hayes about the just-breaking news of Rick Gates testifying that both he and Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, committed financial crimes. The trial isn't about Trump, but Gates, Trump's deputy campaign chairman, stayed with the Trump campaign through the election, the presidential transition, and then worked on a Trump super PAC, so he's inexorably tied to the Trump administration, Hayes said. And he's the first member of the Trump team "to stand on the stand and say, 'Yes, I am a criminal, I committed crimes, and the president of the United States' campaign manager ... is a criminal, and I know that because me and him did crimes together.'"

"Its strange to even say — do you think this story has legs?" Colbert asked, and they both laughed. "Because he did, over the weekend, admit to collusion, and we're all like, 'Yeah, we know.'" Hayes said yes, he thinks this trial will continue to make news, in part because of the facts yet to emerge. "It's a shady group of people, and at some point, you're best assuming the worst," he said.

On Late Night, Seth Meyers read the key Gates testimony verbatim. "Oh my God, this whole thing is like a Law & Order episode that ends in the first five minutes," Meyers said. "'Did you do crimes?' 'Yes, I did crimes.'" Cue the theme music. Watch below. Peter Weber

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