Late Night Tackles Michael Cohen
December 13, 2018

"There has been, just today, another big decision in the landmark case of Donald Trump v. Getting Caught," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. On Wednesday, President Trump's former lawyer "Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison," he said, and he had a tip for Cohen: "First day in prison, you walk right up the biggest guy in the yard, and you pay him $130,000."

"Before Cohen climbed up onto the prison bus, he made sure to throw Trump under it," copping to covering up Trump's "dirty deeds," Colbert said. "And evidently, you suck at it." He read some excerpts from Cohen's tortured confessional and regrets about working for Trump. Cohen said that ironically, he is finally getting his freedom back, but Colbert disagreed: "Actually, the irony is that while you're in prison for your crimes, the guy who ordered you to do the crimes will be at Mar-a-Lago sharing chocolate cake with Xi Jinping and Kid Rock."

"It's especially infuriating to watch Trump pretend to care about the law when his own Justice Department just accused him of a crime for paying hush money to cover up affairs," the crime that's sending Cohen to jail, Seth Meyers said at Late Night. And "Cohen told the court in no uncertain terms that he committed those crimes at the direction of Donald Trump." With Trump facing potential felony charges, he joked, "forget running for re-election — in two years, Trump might be running from the feds." His imagined reason Trump gets caught is worth a watch.

While Cohen was being sentenced to three years, "Michael Flynn, Trump's former National Security Adviser, made an interesting argument for why he shouldn't go to prison," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Yeah, that's right, Michael Flynn says he didn't know lying to the FBI is a crime." He suggested helpfully that "going forward, everyone working for Trump should just be read their Miranda rights on their first day." Watch below. Peter Weber

June 14, 2018

President Trump may think he's solved the North Korean nuclear crisis, "but now he's got to deal with an even greater threat: Robert Mueller," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. Specifically, Trump's lawyer and longtime fixer Michael Cohen has reportedly lost his legal team and is about to flip. "Yes, Michael Cohen is going to sing like a canary — which is ironic, because it's Trump that actually looks like one," Colbert said. He suggested Cohen hire Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti: "I hear that the last lawyer to go up against him is about to get arrested."

This is bad news for Trump, not just Cohen. "One former White House official said, even before the news that Cohen was cooperating broke, that 'Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen. ... If anyone can blow up Trump, it's him,'" Colbert said. "Okay, well, that gives Cohen leverage because the last guy who threatened to blow up Trump got his own summit." Cohen apparently hasn't flipped yet, but Trump has reportedly been fuming about Cohen in private, blaming him for the Daniels fiasco. The Late Show had a brief video waving "goodbye to their beautiful friend-thing."

Colbert shot down Trump's claim to have already denuclearized North Korea and noted the disconnect between Trump's version and North Korea's of what they agreed to orally, because, Trump says, he didn't have time to get it in writing. "This raises a troubling question," Colbert said. "If we're negotiating with dictators, what happens to America's status as an international bulwark against the rise of totalitarian — forget it! Can we talk about that raccoon now?!?" Watch below. Peter Weber

May 11, 2018

The payoffs to Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, keep getting bigger, with AT&T now known to have paid Cohen at least $600,000 since Trump's election and Novartis at least $1.2 million. "That's right, corporations paid millions of dollars into the same shell company that Cohen then used to pay off Stormy Daniels," Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show. "And right now, I can't believe that an affair with a porn star is the least scandalous part of this story."

"Why would multibillion-dollar corporations give so much money to Never Call Saul over here?" Noah asked. "It turns out it's because of what he promised," access to Trump. "This guy's not just a swamp creature, he's literally selling swamp tours," he said. Whether Trump is on this or Cohen is "running a solo side hustle," corporations appear to have been "conned," Noah added. "I'm actually shocked that these major corporations got tricked by the classic 'Nigerian prince' scam. Because if Michael Cohen had pitched them in an African accent, they would have seen this coming from a mile away." He demonstrated.

Cohen's "perfect, he's what would happen if Entourage and The Sopranos did a crossover episode," Jordan Klepper said on The Opposition. "But now my boy Mikey is being smeared just for making an honest bu— for making a buck. ... It's like they say, keep your friends close and your lawyer closer, so that he can sell that closeness to the highest bidder."

"Now the left, they want to paint Michael Cohen as some kind of swamp-filling, Russian-friending, hush-money-paying bad guy who's not qualified to teach high school volleyball," Klepper said, but "the real bad guy here is Michael Avenatti, emphasis on the naughty." Trump TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani is no match for the hunky Avenatti, he added, so he brought out a new counsel for Trump, "hot lawyer Michael Gucciucci," and it gets wet. Watch below. Peter Weber

May 10, 2018

On Tuesday night, Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti released documents, later confirmed, showing that President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen had gotten millions from companies. A Russian oligarch's U.S. subsidiary paid Cohen $500,000, and AT&T ponied up, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "You paid for insights into this administration? He's a horny old racist who likes cheeseburgers more than his children — $200,000, please."

Drugmaker Novartis chipped in seven figures. "Side effects of taking money from Novartis may include headache, nausea, and extended jail time," Colbert said. "So they paid $1.2 million for access to the same administration that let Michael Wolff just sit around writing down everything he saw? No wonder drugs cost so much." The payments were all made in what Colbert jokingly called "crime-sized" chunks, "because the whole thing was supposed to be under the radar," he said, repeating a pertinent question from a source close to the deals: "How the f--k did Avenatti find out?"

"It's pretty crazy that the Stormy Daniels money could be traced all the way back to Vladimir Putin," Jimmy Fallon said on The Tonight Show. "In response, Putin said, 'Donald can spend allowance however he wants.'" This is "why Trump calls Putin his Sugar Vladdy," he added.

"Meanwhile, great news from North Korea — is not a sentence I was expecting to say, but it's actually true," Colbert said, pointing to the release of three Americans held by North Korea. "So credit where credit is due: The return of these prisoners is a good thing that Donald Trump helped happen. We can put it right up there with humiliating Ted Cruz and ... that's it." And CIA director nominee Gina Haspel "attempted to put her past behind her" at Wednesday's Senate confirmation hearing, "and like me, some of the senators there were not convinced that Haspel's torturing days were behind her," he said, helpfully reminding her that Trump favors waterboarding and worse. Watch below. Peter Weber

April 24, 2018

President Trump had a very busy weekend, at least on Twitter. "I never thought I'd say this, but he should golf more," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. The topic that seemed to pique Trump's interest the most was a New York Times article pondering if lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen would flip, in part because Trump has treated him horribly for years. "Yes, Trump treats his friends 'like garbage' — as opposed to Trump's wives, who go in the recycling bin," Colbert joked.

"So what Trump is saying here," he recapped, "is: 'Cohen's a good guy, and this is all a witch hunt, unless he flips, in which case he's a liar and I've never met him.'" Trump also tweeted about James Comey's newly leaked memos, one of which caught Colbert's eyes. Trump had never officially met Vladimir Putin when he reportedly said Putin told him that Russia has "some of the most beautiful hookers in the world," but Putin had said that on TV. "Mr. President, just because somebody is talking on your TV, it doesn't mean they're talking to you — unless it's Fox & Friends, or me right now," Colbert said. He ended with "Trump's weirdest tweet of the weekend," about Sylvester Stallone, Jack Johnson, and pardoning a 100-year-old miscarriage of justice.

Colbert turned to happier news, the birth of a new British royal baby. "The palace announced the baby weighs just over 8.5 pounds — which is $12 in American money," he joked. And the birth was announced by a quasi-royal crier. "He's easy to mistake for royalty — he's got a stupid hat and he doesn't have a real job," Colbert said. "He's real to us, and we believe him, because England is just weird. But he's just a guy who wanders London in a costume you can take your photo with — it would be like if we let the Times Square Elmo announce our Supreme Court decisions." Watch below. Peter Weber

April 20, 2018

Everybody is talking about President Trump's peace efforts with North Korea, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "The president is busy preparing for the possible summit by not preparing," he said. "He's gonna wing it with a nuclear madman. That's like your surgeon going, 'We're just going to open you up and improvise.'" But if things don't go well with Kim Jong Un, Trump has an exit strategy. "What does he mean, he'll leave if the meeting is 'not fruitful'?" Colbert asked. "I mean, do either of these guys look like they know what a fruit is?"

Still, Trump may not have any plan when it comes to personal lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, Colbert said. "Apparently, Trump and his advisers are increasingly worried that Cohen might be susceptible to cooperating with federal prosecutors. The obvious answer: Michael Cohen just pays himself $130,000 to shut up."

One of Trump's legal advisers wondered how many years in prison Cohen would have to face to flip, and Colbert found the upper range a little implausible: "Fifteen-years loyal? Michael Cohen disclosed Sean Hannity's name in court after being asked twice. He's not 5-minutes loyal. And let's just pause a moment to notice that they have jumped immediately to whether Michael Cohen will turn state's evidence against the president of the United States to avoid jail time — which everybody believes is coming for at least one of these guys. The word 'innocent' is nowhere in this conversation. Even Justice is like, 'I'm blind, but I can smell fear.'" He had some advice for Cohen, too, and it involved not fishing on Lake Tahoe. Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads