The record-setting churn at President Trump's White House has left West Wing staffers so on edge and in the dark that "White House officials have begun betting pools of sorts among each other on who's getting ousted next," according to Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey. Wednesday's Late Show ran with that idea, creating a DCAA "March Sadness" bracket.
Fake CBS Sports announcers Larry Boberry and Gary Nanafanafoferry walk through the regional matches to "find out which Trump administration members will still be left by the end of March." Rex Tillerson was already knocked out for Mike Pompeo, but what about John Kelly vs. Javanka, or Ben Carson vs. Budget Office Furniture? The Betsy DeVos bracket is especially barbed. Watch below. Peter Weber
On Tuesday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert explained the curious circumstances surrounding President Trump's tweet-sacking of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But "Tillerson's firing today is just the latest in a massive purge of the Trump administration," he noted, listing off the biggest of the fallen Trumpites. "For those of us in the media, the constant turnover has been amazing to watch: the drama, the fireworks, the winners, the losers, the losers, the losers. It's like something out of The Hunger Games. Or, something even more dramatic than that — it's The Hungry to Leave Power Games." Colbert reprised his Caesar Flickerman persona from the 2016 campaign, adjusting it for the Trump White House.
Colbert/Flickerman ran through a version of Tillerson's life story and rocky tenure at the State Department, and then it was time to say goodbye. "All our sexy ex-Rexes are going back to Texas," he said. "So we bid Secretary Tillerson a symbolic farewell by filling this simple wooden coffin, first with Secretary Tillerson and next with what he loved most, delicious oil. ... Because whether it be fossil fuels or calling the president a f---ing moron, we know Rex Tillerson likes it crude." He gave the traditional farewell to the tribute (Trumpbute?) from District Oil, then threw up a bunch of other Trump White House alumni. "It's sad to see them leave," he said, "but they're going to a better place: testifying for Robert Mueller." Watch below. Peter Weber
Secretary of State and "human Grumpy Cat" Rex Tillerson was just one of three Trump administration officials fired on Tuesday alone, Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Working for the White House is basically like being in a Saw movie: You show up, you get tortured for a while, and then you get killed off." It's not clear why Trump decided to fire Tillerson now, Noah said, but he summed up their fraught relationship with the "serious mind games" Trump played with Tillerson on North Korea. "It's like Trump was trying to get Tillerson to break up with him," he said. Still, the people who dissed Tillerson early on "turned out to be right," Noah added. "Tillerson was a pretty bad secretary of state." He gave some examples — funding cuts, exodus of diplomats — then drily celebrated "Rex Tillerson's greatest achievements." Or rather, achievement.
"I'm not saying Rex Tillerson was a great secretary of state — he had the energy of a 14-year-old bloodhound on his third mint julep," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "But if you're going to fire Cabinet secretaries for being bad at their jobs, let me refer you to Betsy DeVos' appearance on 60 Minutes. Not only was she wildly uninformed, but 60 minutes is also her longest work day so far." Tillerson, like Gary Cohn, was never going to "rein in Donald Trump," he added. "If the White House is a fraternity in an '80s movie, Tillerson was the dean — and the dean never wins in an '80s movie."
"There's a million reasons why Donald Trump should have fired Rex Tillerson," Jordan Klepper agreed on The Opposition. "He called Trump a 'f---ing moron'; for a guy in the State Department, he wasted a lot of time in foreign countries"; and worst of all, he added, Tillerson wanted to punish Russia. Watch more below. Peter Weber
President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday. "The strange part about this is ... everything," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "But strangest of all is how Trump told him, via tweet. ... What could be worse than learning you got fired from your boss' tweet? Oh, maybe seeing that 86,000 people 'liked' it. 'I lost my job but I am #trending,'" Colbert joked. "It's too bad Twitter wasn't around when Trump ended his first two marriages — back then he had to do it by fax."
The White House said it did not fire Tillerson by tweet, but via a phone call from Trump last Friday — but State Department spokesman Steve Goldstein contradicted that, saying Tillerson did not have advance warning and had planned to stay on. Colbert laid out a scenario where the White House apologized to Tillerson for getting it wrong, said he was just kidding, then explained what really happened: Trump fired Goldstein, too. Trump kind of elaborated on why he let Tillerson go, but one phrase caught Colbert's attention: "Rex will be much happier now? Every word in that sentence is what you say to a child when their dog has been put down."
So what was the final straw for Tillerson. "We don't know for sure — but yes we do, it was Russia," Colbert said, pointing out that just one day earlier, after the White House declined to blame Russia, Tillerson had strongly criticized Moscow for the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in Britain and said it would certainly "trigger a response." And it did, Colbert noted: "Goodbye, Rex. ... Tillerson should have known better. Russia has denied the whole thing, and the only thing worse than contradicting your boss is contradicting your boss' boss." Tillerson said his public farewells, but notably he "didn't mention Donald Trump" at all, Colbert said. "Sounds like Rex just made $130,000." Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, over Twitter and reportedly without telling Tillerson first, Jimmy Kimmel noted on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. "Trump told reporters he made this decision 'by myself.' Right, like a 5-year-old — 'I did it all by myself.' Of course you did it by yourself: There's no one left at the White House anymore. It's just you and your Slovenian captive." The audience wasn't sure about that last joke.
Kimmel laughed at Trump saying he thinks Tillerson "will be much happier now." "Did he fire him or have him put to sleep?" he asked. "To recap, Hope Hicks is out, Gary Cohn is out, Rex Tillerson is out — on top of all that, yesterday they fired Trump's personal assistant, a guy named John McEntee. He's been with Trump for the last three years, he was his body man, and the reports say he was fired because he was under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes." The good news, Kimmel said, is that "even though he had to be removed from the White House, McEntee already has a new job — as senior adviser to Trump's re-election campaign. So hakuna matata, everyone."
The list of White House evacuees is really long, but "just because they're gone, it doesn't mean they have to be forgotten," Kimmel said. He handed the show to George Takei, who hawked Trump alum commemorative plates (and one pasta bowl). "Act now — like a Trump adviser, this offer won't be around for long," Takei joked.
The Late Show did not have commemorative plates for Tillerson, but it did put together a highlight reel of Tillerson's tenure as America's top diplomat, as told through Stephen Colbert's monologues. Watch below. Peter Weber
On Sunday night, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sat down with Lesley Stahl at 60 Minutes, and on Monday night's Late Show, Stephen Colbert sifted through the train wreck of an interview. "DeVos' theory is that if you take money away from public schools and give it to charter schools, that will somehow help the public schools," Colbert said. "It's a system called 'stupid.'" He tore apart her stated hesitation to "talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students." "Your job is to talk about schools 'in general,' not individual students," Colbert noted acerbically. "That's why you run the Department of Education and not the Department of Jennifer."
Colbert also said it's part of DeVos' job to visit underperforming schools, intentionally or not, and her declining to do so is "like a doctor saying, 'I have not intentionally visited sick patients. I give all their medicine to the healthy patients and that gives them an incentive to get better.'" Finally, DeVos said she's not sure exactly how she became President Trump's "most hated Cabinet secretary," and Colbert had some advice: "You should check out last night's 60 Minutes." Peter Weber
President Trump's White House is entering critical meltdown, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "Wow, the White House tours must be getting really interesting. 'Okay, now we're passing the Lincoln Bedroom — on your right, you'll see John Kelly suffocating Jared Kushner with a pillow, and on your left you'll see the claw marks on the wall left by Steve Bannon as they dragged him to the curb.'" One manifestation of the chaos was Trump's apparently unscheduled announcement of steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Economists aren't a fan of Trump's proposed tariffs, Colbert explained, and the Dow "sunk like an anchor made of solid American steel. So, the market has spoken — unfortunately, I cannot repeat the word it said on CBS." The new policy will likely raise the price of everything from canned beer to cars, and other countries are already threatening to retaliate, but "what's interesting is how Trump came to this decision," Colbert said. "So Trump is making radical changes to our economy because he's cranky?"
The chaos is also manifesting in the exodus from the White House, most recently Hope Hicks. Her "white lies" admission to Congress "did not sit well with the president," who reportedly berated her for being "stupid," but a friend compared Hicks' departure to Trump losing a limb, Colbert said. "For Trump, losing Hope Hicks is like losing an arm, which is terrible, because we all know he needs two hands to drink water."
It's not just Hicks. Jared Kushner's getting bad press and his security clearance is now lower than the White House chief calligrapher's, Colbert laughed, and there are rumors Trump is pushing out National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. "But the guy who's really upsetting Trump is Attorney General and racist Dobbie Jeff Sessions," whom Trump has blessed with a new, old-timey nickname. If you're under 80, you can watch Colbert explain who Mr. Magoo is below. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, President Trump's White House communications director, Hope Hicks, told House investigators that she sometimes tells "white lies" for Trump. "Well, duh — telling lies to white people is what got Trump elected," Stephen Colbert joked on Wednesday's Late Show. "And now, totally unrelated to the fact that she told Congress that she lies for the president, Hicks has announced that she would be resigning as White House communications director." She won't be leaving right away — "she has to train up her replacement liar," Colbert said — and he imagined Hicks moving into an apartment with her predecessors Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci, with appropriately colorful made-up dialogue.
Colbert laughed at the statement Hicks put out — "the communications director has 'no words,' and the president is hoping she'll have 'no words' for Robert Mueller" — and then made the inevitable pun: "So it's farewell to Ms. Hicks. Now, in every sense of the word, this administration is truly hopeless."
If Hicks is leaving, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is hanging on, despite Trump continuing to insult and attack him, most recently on Twitter Wednesday. "What are you doing?" Colbert asked. "Mr. President, don't be passive-aggressive — just pick up the phone and call Jeff Sessions. America's like a kid caught between two angry parents: 'Well, you tell your mother if she spent more time investigating Obama and less time worrying about me, maybe we would go to Disney World!'" Trump also slammed Sessions on Fox News, and since he apparently isn't speaking with Sessions, Colbert gave the attorney general (or an edible approximation thereof) some time to vent his feelings. Watch below. Peter Weber