Thursday's "parliamentary smackdown" in the House Judiciary and Oversight committees pitted Republicans against FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose text messages with lover Lisa Page criticizing President Trump have put him in the crosshairs of Trump and his allies, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. He read a few of those critical texts. His audience cheered. But "Republicans see these texts as proof of a vast conspiracy within the FBI to stop Donald Trump from being elected president, and here's how devious and how deep they went," Colbert said: "In order to keep it a secret, they let him get elected president."
In Thursday's circus-like hearing, "Strzok came out swinging," Colbert said, "but then the grilling began." And when Strzok, heeding instructions from FBI lawyers, declined to answer some GOP questions about the Trump-Russia investigation, "all rhetorical hell broke loose." He played a clip then enthusiastically re-enacted it, taking some colorful liberties. "This is the first time I've seen Congress as frustrated with Congress as we are," he said, playing another showdown. But things really went off the rails when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) snidely brought up Strzok's wife.
Colbert wrapped things up: "So it looks like what happened here is that Congress hauled in an FBI agent in an effort to undermine the integrity of law enforcement and protect the president from being investigated for potentially criminal acts." He underscored that point by playing Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) reading one of Strzok's texts. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert puts the Trump team's now-confirmed Russia meeting lies in context, pokes Paul Manafort
Last year, Donald Trump Jr. released a statement saying, falsely, that the June 2016 meeting he agreed to in Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton was about adoption. President "Trump clearly wrote that statement for his son — you knew as soon as you read it — but if that were true, that would be obstruction of justice," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, "so the president and his team have repeatedly denied having anything to do with it" — until his lawyers recently admitted that Trump did dictate the statement.
"Of course he did!" Colbert said. "That letter could not have been more 'by Donald Trump' if it had been written in bronzer on the back of a KFC bucket. Because — and here's the thing you can't forget — everything you think happened with Donald Trump is always exactly what happened. Anyone who's surprised to find out he's lying probably watches Titanic going, 'Oooh, I hope that boat's going to be okay.'" So Trump lied to the public, and so did his lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had a novel reason the president intervened, Colbert said. "Yes, advice on hiding your crimes from the feds is what any father would do — I'm sorry, that's what any godfather would do."
Paul Manafort, who was also at the Trump Tower meeting, is now "under house arrest on 23 counts of fraud and conspiracy in two different states," Colbert said. But Manafort may end up going to jail because, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he tried to tamper with witnesses. "Manafort used an encrypted messaging app to contact one of them, saying, 'We should talk,'" Colbert said. "He should have gone with the classic: 'u up? ... for lying to Robert Mueller?' And the plan would have worked except for one tiny flaw: The witness immediately gave the texts to the FBI." Watch below. Peter Weber
Trevor Noah and Jordan Klepper disagree on Trump's self-pardoning prowess, agree it's odd to suggest murdering James Comey
"One of the president's top selling points during the campaign was that as a man of the people, he was going to make sure the elites would be treated exactly like everybody else — that's what Trump said, especially when it came to the law," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show, showing clips. "Unlike 'Crooked Hillary' and 'Black Barack' Obama, Trump did not think anyone was above the law, including himself." Then Robert Mueller came calling.
Now, Trump and his lawyers are arguing that the president can't, by definition, obstruct justice, and if he could, he can't be charged with any crime, and even if he were, he has absolute power to pardon himself — "essentially, that the president is above the law," Noah said. "Which makes sense. I mean, we all remember when the founders were like, 'You know what America needs? A king!'" He said he understands the legal argument, "but I do think it's a little weird that of all the examples they could have picked, they went with murdering James Comey."
Monday was Trump's 500th day in office, and "I wish I could go over all of our president's incredible wins," Jordan Klepper said at The Opposition. "Things like teaching Boy Scouts about yacht orgies, or increasing Frederick Douglass awareness, making Jake Tapper say 'sh-thole.'" But he decided "to focus on Trump's latest distinction," he said: "Trump has elevated the office of the presidency so high that it's currently located above the law."
As Rudy Giuliani argued Sunday, "President Trump couldn't even be indicted for murder — which is an incredibly normal thing to say if you're the lawyer of a man whose wife hadn't been seen in 24 days," Klepper said. He brought out Kobi Libii to "weigh in on these complex legal issues," and Libii turned "self-pardoning" into a legally appropriate but borderline NSFW metaphor. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert helpfully turns Trump's claim to absolute legal impunity into a 2020 campaign slogan
Monday was the 500th day of President Trump's time in office, and Stephen Colbert said some congratulations are in order. "We've made it through the first trimester of his presidency," he said on Monday's Daily Show, "but for some reason, my nausea hasn't gone away." Also not going away? Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, he said, and Trump introduced a new legal wrinkle Monday, claiming the absolute power to pardon himself.
Colbert was skeptical but Trump's lawyers apparently agree, telling Mueller in a newly disclosed letter that the Constitution allows Trump to, "if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon." That means "it's probably not going to happen," Colbert reasoned, "because if there's one thing Donald Trump won't do, it's exercise."
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani went on TV to defend Trump's expansive reading of executive powers, Colbert noted, and things started off a little awkwardly on Sunday's Meet the Press: "Yes, he called Chuck Todd 'Todd,' then corrected himself to 'Chris.' That's the sort of attention of detail I look for in a lawyer." Giuliani also claimed that Trump could shoot James Comey and not face any consequences, except maybe impeachment. "So there it is: The president can commit any crime he wants," Colbert said. "Which will make a great new campaign slogan: 'Trump 2020: I Could Kill You in Your Sleep.'' He went on to rib Giuliani for getting booed by Yankees fans on his birthday, and Colbert booed the Supreme Court's gay-wedding cake ruling. Watch below. Peter Weber
Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal Russia investigation lawyer, is surprisingly frank that his media tour to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is "all just a big PR campaign," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. "Rudy is like a James Bond villain who explains his evil plot to 007 before he actually catches him — although no Bond villain has ever had teeth quite as grotesque as Rudy Giuliani, chaos demon."
In "his best moments," Giuliani "forgets he's there to lie and whoopsies out some true things," Bee said, showing examples. "But Trump's not keeping Rudy around for his brilliant legal mind, he's keeping him around to spread brilliant propaganda," specifically his "spygate" conspiracy. "No matter how many times Trump says it, there is no 'spygate,'" she explained. The FBI informant "was never implanted in the campaign, and none of this remotely sabotaged Trump who, if the trail of Happy Meal toys to the Resolute Desk is any indication, is our president."
"Of course, Trump and Rudy's story doesn't need to convince everyone, it just has to convince enough of his base so he can discredit the Mueller investigation," Bee said. "But to do that, he'd need a conservative media machine that's dishonest and manipulative enough to play along." You see where that's going. "Even though the Mueller probe has turned up 17 indictments and five guilty pleas, the 'spygate' narrative is successfully stirring up doubt about its legitimacy," she added. "We can make fun of Rudy all we want — and we will, because it's one of the few things that still brings us joy — but what he's doing is working. He's kind of like Loki, in that he spreads mischief and dates back thousands of years. But contrary to popular liberal belief, Rudy is not some senile old lunatic, he's a perfectly aware old lunatic who's genuinely enjoying screwing around with us." Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump was in New York City on Wednesday, having dinner with supporters — "well, it's New York, so 'supporter,'" Stephen Colbert joked on The Late Show. "Bon appétit, Sean Hannity." But the big story is that "Trump is calling the one informant that the FBI used to find out if the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russian government 'a nest of spies,'" he added. "The reviews are in on his new thriller," and they are not glowing. "But today, Trump gave his conspiracy a nickname," Colbert said, and he wasn't unimpressed.
Spygate? "A, a criminal investigation is not 'spying' — it should be 'Investigate-gate,'" Colbert said. "And B, 'Spygate' has already been used, twice — once to describe the public identification of Valerie Plame as a CIA officer, and for the New England Patriots videotaping of New York Jets coaches' signals. Well, as long as we're just stealing other scandals' names, from now on Watergate is the fact that Trump can't drink one-handed." Trump tweeted about his "made-up spy thing," too, Colbert said, and he read some of the nuttier tweets.
"Yes, follow Trump down the rabbit hole here," Colbert said. "They embedded a spy early on and paid him massive sums of money to sabotage the Trump campaign with false claims of Russian collusion in the press to help Hillary Clinton win, and then — and here's the insidious part — they didn't tell the press and Hillary Clinton lost, so when Trump revealed this plot he would seem like a desperate criminal spinning conspiracy theories to stop the walls from closing in! Nice try, Deep State!" He ended with a few caustic thoughts on Trump's call for nonpartisan transparency, ending with this zinger: "I give him this — we are getting transparency, because it is easy to see through that bulls--t." Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert explains why Trump's meddling in the Trump investigation isn't technically a 'constitutional crisis'
Tuesday was another milestone "on Trump's highway to American greatness," because President Trump "has ordered the people investigating him to investigate their investigation of him," Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. "Some people are calling this a constitutional crisis, but I don't know about that. A constitutional crisis technically requires that one branch of the government push back against another branch of the government. Everybody here is pushing in the same direction, and it's down — with a pillow over the Constitution's face, going 'Shhhhh, it'll be over soon.'"
Colbert ran the story back to May 2016, read Trump's recent tweets about a "spy" in his campaign, and returned to Monday's high-stakes White House meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, where Trump pushed them to divulge classified information about a covert U.S. intelligence asset. "And here's the thing: They're gonna do it. They're gonna show the evidence to congressional Republicans — and no Democrats — but it's not political, it's all perfectly innocent, according to Trump lawyer and man seeing the evidence against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani."
Giuliani said Trump is acting not in his capacity as subject of the investigation but as president. "Yes, Donald Trump is kind of wearing two hats in this investigation," Colbert said. "One is president, the other is criminal." You can see an image of both hats below.
But The Late Show has one way to short-circuit this crisis — it has found Trump's "mole." Peter Weber
Jimmy Kimmel congratulates Trump on 1 year of the Mueller 'Witch Hunt,' and Seth Meyers throws up his hands
"Today is the one-year anniversary of Collusiapallooza," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live, "and our president had a special message on Twitter this morning to celebrate that fact," congratulating America on entering "the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History." "Congrats to you, too, old pal, we've come a long way," Kimmel said. "When he started with 'Congratulations America,' I was hoping he would end with 'I quit,' but no."
"It was a big day — Robert Mueller had a bouquet of long-stem subpoenas delivered to the White House," Kimmel said, but his own present was a reel of Trump saying "witch hunt" in a surprising variety of public settings.
Trump's personal lawyer is also in the news, facing new allegations that he solicited a $1 million bribe from Qatar — unsuccessfully. "Michael Cohen's like the human version of every failed product on Shark Tank — he's the worst!" Kimmel said. "I mean, who does that kind of thing?" (Guillermo.)
On Late Night, Seth Meyers dug into some other things Cohen has been up to (allegedly), Rudy Giuliani's various face-plants, and other news from the fire hose we're all drinking from. "Can I just say, whenever they make a movie about all this, it is gonna suck," he said, "because it will never be as crazy as the real thing." Watch below for the Cops homage. Peter Weber