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Late Night Tackles Trump versus Mueller
December 6, 2018

Late Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a sentencing memo for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and significant parts of it were redacted. On Wednesday, The Late Show was inspired by Mueller's understatement to debut a new line of Mueller Christmas cards.

In his memo, Mueller noted Flynn's "substantial" help in the Russian collusion investigation and recommended little or no jail time. "My my!" said Stephen Colbert. "He must have given them something really good — if by really good you mean really bad." He speculated on what types of "firsthand" information and documents about the Trump team's contacts with Russian government officials Flynn might have handed over, perhaps including "a note from Trump to Putin: 'Will you collude with me? Check one: Yes or no.'"

"Of course, not everyone thinks Flynn's sentencing recommendation looks damning," Colbert said, playing clips of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) telling Fox News he thinks the memo is "good news for President Trump" and Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy making a similar argument, getting pushback from co-host Brian Kilmeade. "What does Doocy think is under all those black bars? Just nipples?" Colbert asked. And Rudy Giuliani's "SPECIAL WHATEVER" reaction? "I think Giuliani has entered his mean-girl phase," Colbert said. He went on to mock Giuliani, Trump's 74-year-old cybersecurity adviser, for mistaking a hyperlink he inadvertently created for an invasion of his Twitter feed.

"Now I'm not saying Flynn flipped on Trump, but today he and Mueller bought matching Christmas pajamas," Jimmy Fallon joked on The Tonight Show. "Last week we learned about Michael Cohen flipping on Trump, now it's Michael Flynn, today Trump was like, 'That's it, deport everyone named Michael.'" He also had some jokes about the memo's heavy redaction — "Trump was like, 'Did he try to highlight using a Sharpie, because I do that all the time. It doesn't work.'" — and some quips about Roger Stone. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 6, 2018

"It's been an exciting couple of weeks for those of us following the Mueller investigation," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. On Tuesday night, she said, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's sentencing memo for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn dropped, "fetchingly dressed in horizontal stripes, and about two weeks ago," notably, President Trump finally handed Mueller his written testimony on Russian collaboration and "Mueller's team tossed Paul Manafort in the trash like a picked-over turkey carcass."

There's speculation that Mueller wanted Manafort and Trump to coordinate their lies so he could nab both of them, and "if it is what happened, it is absolutely allowed," Bee said. "Despite what you may have heard on Fox News, Mueller does not have to save Trump from incriminating himself."

"We don't know if any of this will come back on Trump in the end, but at least a few more of the people who surround him will go to jail," Bee said. She focused on Roger Stone. "One Trump associate after another is turning out to be in deep, deep trouble," she said, "so this holiday season, as the Trumps gather round the blood tree, Trump will probably be a little afraid that it will be his last Christmas in the White House. Mueller Christmas, everyone."

Late Night's Seth Meyers reminded everyone how Team Trump got here. "So their story went from 'There was no contact' to 'There was no collusion with Russians' to 'We tried to collude, but nothing came of it.' But then, as one Trump associate after another was indicted or plead guilty, the Trump team changed their story again," to "collusion is not a crime," he said. "In order to believe Trump and everyone around him are innocent, you'd have to believe they've been lying for two years because they did nothing wrong," and it's now clear that "Mueller knows they lied and he can prove they lied." Watch below. Peter Weber

November 30, 2018

Stephen Colbert kicked off Thursday's Late Show with a Beatles reference. "I read the news today, oh boy!" he said. "Because Robert Mueller is getting closer and closer to his prey. It's a true game of cat and large, slow-moving man," and the star of the show on Thursday was Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime lawyer and fixer. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump's Russian business dealings, Colbert said, a "serious offense" that could send him to jail "or to the Supreme Court."

The lie Cohen admitted to was about negotiating a Trump Tower Moscow deal until right before the 2016 Republican National Convention, not up to January 2016, as he had told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Why would Cohen lie about that?" Colbert asked. "Well, he didn't want people to think Trump was in bed with the Russians, because nobody wants to be in that Russian bed." ("It's got pee-pee in it," he added.) Trump tried to explain at great lengths why there was nothing wrong with negotiating to build a lucrative tower in the capital of America's nuclear-armed adversary while clinching his party's nomination for president, and Colbert mostly just let him talk. And talk.

At The Daily Show, Trevor Noah compared Trump's rambling explanation to a choose-your-own-adventure book, and Trump eventually landed on the real question: "Why deal with Russia at all while you're running for president of the United States? Why not just avoid the conflict all together?" And Trump's answer — "he also thought that he would lose" — was actually very persuasive, Noah said. "I would have told him to do the same thing," to expand his business because there's no way he was going to win. "But still, man, you have to see how shady this is," he added. "No president in modern history has run for office while also working a side hustle." Watch below. Peter Weber

November 29, 2018

"I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving while we were off," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Of course, now we kick off a very special season — we're all waiting for that magical man to check his naughty-and-nice list, because Mueller Claus is coming to town!" He sang that last part, and continued in song for a bit. "It appears the Russia investigation is heading into high gear," he said, starting his recap with Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman whose plea deal with Special Counsel Mueller was axed Monday because Manafort allegedly kept lying to investigators.

So Manfort is now in much deeper trouble. "This can mean only one of two things: One, he's afraid to rat on the Russians 'cause he has a lifelong dream of continuing to live — yes, he's got this bucket list of not ending up in a series of buckets," Colbert joked, darkly. Or "he's expecting Trump to pardon him." Trump hasn't already pardoned him because "while Manafort was pretending to cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation, this whole time he was also feeding information" to Trump's lawyers, he suggested. "So the fix was in, baby. It was the long con; you do this, you get a pardon; one tiny hand washes another."

"And Manafort really needs that pardon now more than ever," Colbert said, pointing to a report in The Guardian that Manafort secretly met with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange several times, including in March 2016, right before he joined the Trump campaign. "If this is true, that means the world's palest man met the world's shadiest man," he joked. It would also mean there's a direct link between Trump's campaign and the disseminator of Russian-pilfered Democratic emails. "Okay, that looks bad, but only because it is very bad," Colbert said, ending with equally damning emails about WikiLeaks between Trump adviser Roger Stone and birther Jerome Corsi. Watch below. Peter Weber

November 8, 2018

"Last night was a monumental election that fundamentally shifts the balance of power in Washington, D.C., for years to come — and it is not the top story," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Because today, Trump fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions." He elaborated with a long Edgar Allan Poe joke. "Now there's some confusion among stupid people as to whether Sessions was fired or he resigned," Colbert said. "He did submit a letter of resignation, but it began: 'At your request, I am submitting my resignation.'"

Trump clearly fired Sessions because he recused himself from the Russia investigation, and Colbert kind of came to his defense: "You can't blame Sessions for recusing himself — it's the only thing that's good that he's ever done. It's like hating Lou Bega for 'Mambo No. 5.'" Colbert gave his stand-in for Sessions a chance to say farewell, then crushed him.

Then Colbert got down to brass tacks. With Sessions out, "who on Earth would be willing to go down in history as the man who stepped in to fire Robert Mueller?" he asked. "Enter new Acting Attorney General and Caucasian M&M Matt Whitaker. Now there is no way to know Whitaker's stance on the Mueller investigation — unless you read his op-ed, 'Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far,' in which Whitaker wrote that if Mueller looks into Trump's finances, it 'could be damaging to the president of the United States ... and by extension, to the country.' And by 'the country,' of course, he means Russia."

"So Trump just hand-picked a guy who wants to stop the investigation into Donald Trump to be in charge of the investigation of Donald Trump," Colbert recapped, comparing that to a murder suspect choosing his own judge. He used a telling tweet from Whitaker to imagine his first day on the job. Watch below. Peter Weber

November 1, 2018

On Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office said it had asked the FBI to investigate claims that somebody was trying to pay women to falsely accuse Mueller of sexual misconduct. Yes, "somebody is trying to frame Robert Mueller — and not the way I thought, where he reveals the president's ties to Russia and then we hang Mueller's picture in every home in America," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "If you're going to pay women to lie, the charges have to pass the smell test. Mueller is so famously a straight-shooter, his birthday suit is a suit. A wild night for Mueller is having coffee after 5 p.m."

"So who is dumb enough to think they're smart enough to pull this off?" Colbert asked. "The master-let's-say-mind of this scheme is 20-year-old Twitter troll Jacob Wohl," owner of a dubious firm called Surefire Intelligence, based on several clues. "How dumb do you have to be to use your own photo in a con game against the former head of the FBI?" Colbert asked. "I'm beginning to think he didn't think this one through."

Wohl also registered Surefire Intelligence's website with his own email address, and a number on the site led to Wohl's mother's voicemail. "Yeah, his mom's phone — that explains the outgoing message," Colbert said, playing a fake message. But the tale isn't over. "Despite the story completely falling apart and the FBI breathing down their necks, it's still being pushed by Wohl's accomplice," GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman, who is planning to trot out the "first" Mueller accuser at "high noon" on Thursday, he added. "Yes, high noon. Because if you believe any part of this story, I'm guess you're high by noon." Watch below. Peter Weber

August 10, 2018

President Trump "remains on vacation, but it's a working vacation, because he's still lying," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. According to one tally, Trump told 132 falsehoods last week, or 19 lies a day, almost five times his average, he noted. "Wow, that is impressive! How does he keep up that pace? Does he wear some sort of wrist tracker, the Fibbit?" Trump debuted some big new whoppers, and Colbert ran through some, conceding that with Trump's "tendency to cheat on facts," his lawyers — and Fox News pundits — have a point about him not sitting down to talk with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But Colbert had an idea: "He could not lie."

Since "his lawyers know that's not an option," he added, they are gunning to neuter Mueller by severely limiting the questions he can ask Trump. Colbert offered an analogy: "Look, you can ask my client, Jeffrey Dahmer, about anything you want — other than murder and dinner."

The Late Show dramatized the White House demands for Mueller's questions.

Colbert moved on to the Oscars and Drake's plan to trademark the phrase "God's Plan," not just for his song but also merchandise and a TV game show. "I can't wait for God's Plan the game show," Colbert joked, imagining what that might look like (and feel like: painful). "Still, hard to believe Drake is trying to trademark 'God's Plan,'" he said. "I mean, you have to wonder how the Almighty feels about that." And the Late Show ceiling God came out and told him. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 9, 2018

There were some pretty big elections on Tuesday, including the still-contested special election in Ohio's solidly red 12th congressional district between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "If the vote difference tightens any further, it could trigger an automatic recount under Ohio election law — and under Ohio election law, whoever loses the recount has to go to the Lakers." Tuesday's elections also made history because now a record 11 women are gubernatorial nominees, Kansas Democrats nominated an openly gay Native American first-time candidate for Congress, and Kansas Rep. Ron Estes (R) won his primary challenge against a different Ron Estes. Colbert had a song about that last victory/defeat.

Meanwhile, President Trump may still be on vacation at his golf club in New Jersey, Colbert said, "but he hasn't forgotten about the Mueller investigation," mentioning ending the special counsel's investigation "about 20 times" with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) over golf on Sunday. "You know what they say: Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different restful is the definition of a very stable genius," he said. And then he played some imagined, increasingly bonkers voicemails from Trump to Graham. Watch below. Peter Weber

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