“This weekend, we received some troubling news: our president is not a Russian asset,” Stephen Colbert said to open Monday’s Late Show, the first since the wrap-up of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. To recap, Mueller delivered the report of his much-hyped two-year investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election to the attorney general, William Barr, on Friday evening. Barr, a Trump appointee, released a summary of Mueller’s report on Sunday, in which he cleared the president of collusion with Russia and declined to bring any further charges.
Colbert called the lack of collusion finding “troubling news, because if Trump is not working with the Russians, then what the hell is wrong with him? If they don’t have anything on him, why does he keep saying nice things about Vladimir Putin?”
The conclusion of the much-hyped investigation is “anti-climatic”, he continued. “It’s like saying, “Guess what, kids! Santa came! And he brought … mostly nothing. In fact, Santa took his sack of presents and handed them over to some guy named Bill, and Bill is like ‘I’ll give you a summary of the gifts’.”
In wake of the news, particularly the clearance of collusion allegations, many conservative pundits called for the president’s critics to apologize. Fine, Colbert said. “I will start. I have said one or two things about Donald Trump, like how he’s a terrible president, so uh…you know, I’m just going to bite the bullet and come out and say it,” he turned, straight-faced, as the camera zoomed in. “Mr. President, if you’re watching – and I know you are – I’m sorry that you’re a terrible president.”
Though the summary of Mueller’s report is arguably “the best news of his presidency,” Colbert warned that Barr’s decision to not press on obstruction of justice allegations is suspect; before he was appointed attorney general, Barr voluntarily wrote a 19-page memo in which he called the obstruction theory “fatally misconceived” and based on “a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law”.
In other words, “That’s a hell of a job application,” Colbert said, re-enacting the scene. “Hello, here’s my card, it says: Bill Barr, obstruction is not possible.”
“Oh, I got the job?” he continued as Barr. “What’s my first assignment – decide whether obstruction is possible? Let me see that card again – no it is not.”
Ultimately, it is good news that the president is not a foreign asset, he said, “but even if Donald Trump was falsely accused, he only has himself to blame. Because he lies so much, you just don’t know what to believe. He even lies about things he doesn’t need to lie about,” such as the time lied, via Air Force One memo, about the reason behind his son’s meeting with Russians in Trump Tower. It may not be a collusion, Colbert said, but it is a lie.
Fair is fair, though – “Barr says Mueller says there was no collusion between Trump and Russia, so we have to cross collusion off the list of reasons Trump is unfit to be president,” Colbert concluded, pointing to a whiteboard filled, on one side, with the president’s disqualifying actions; on the other, a list of seventeen ongoing congressional and legal investigations against him.
“Sir, it’s gone,” Colbert said of the Mueller one. “That must be one-seventeenth of a weight off your shoulders.”
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah admitted that the Mueller investigation’s conclusion was “a little disappointing”, particularly the special counsel’s reported refusal to make a call on obstruction of justice.
“Are you shitting me right now?” Noah ranted. “Robert Mueller spends two years investigating obstruction of justice and his conclusion is ‘I don’t know, what do you guys think?’ That’s not an answer, Robert Mueller! That is the question we gave you!”
The president’s supporters were, predictably, calling the report a massive victory for Trump. However, “I think this was really a win for everyone,” Noah said. “I mean, this is great for Democrats, because they can move on from collusion now and campaign on the issues that more people care about. It’s a win for America, because, you know, your president isn’t a traitor.”
“It’s also a huge win for the children of Africa, because they’re about to receive a giant shipment of Trump Colluded T-shirts.”
And perhaps the ultimate winner? The American taxpayer. Mueller may have spent $25m on the investigation, but his findings forced former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort to pay the government over $40m, “which I guess is another reason why the Mueller investigation was such a big win for Trump,” Noah explained. “This is the first time he’s been involved in something that actually turned a profit.”
Over in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel observed that since Mueller recommended no new charges for Trump or his advisers, “now the process of tearing our country even further apart can finally begin”.
“Half of American is upset that our president didn’t collude with Russia. Seems like we should probably be happy about that, shouldn’t we?” he continued. “And deep down, didn’t we know that Trump didn’t collude with Russia because he could never pull that off.”
“And even if he did collude, it probably would’ve been by accident,” Kimmel said, pointing out that Mueller’s investigation did find that Putin and his government made overtures to the Trump campaign, and that Russia meddled in the election on Trump’s behalf.
“Basically, Trump got in the White House the same way Lori Loughlin got her kid into USC,” he concluded, referring to the recent college admissions bribery scandal.