This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined Instagram, and his new nickname for the State Department raised some eyebrows. "You know, between the Space Force and the Department of Swagger, this Trump administration has really given us an exciting look into what the government could be if it were run by a wealthy 12-year-old," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. He paired the "Department of Swagger" idea with a specially created State Department new-employee orientation video designed to "fit in with the hip new attitude," and, well, maybe this all would have gone better with input from actual 12-year-olds. Watch below. Peter Weber
There was "historically crazy stuff happening" every one of the 19 days The Late Show was on break, a white-bearded Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's show, and "we were prepared to talk about all of it," but then Bob Woodward dropped excerpts of the latest "explosive book about the Trump White House," and what are you gonna do? According to Woodward, nobody in the White House likes President Trump, least of all Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Colbert had some fun with choice Kelly quotes about hating his job, calling Trump an "idiot," and referring to the West Wing as "Crazytown."
There were also quotes from Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Trump himself, who reported mocked Attorney General Jeff Sessions as "this dumb Southerner." Colbert took umbrage: "As a South Carolinian, that is a hurtful stereotype, sir. Not all Southerners are dumb — just the ones willing to work for you." But the craziest anecdote from the book might be that after a disastrous mock interview, Trump lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow went to Special Counsel Robert Mueller to re-enact the interview and argue that Trump is incapable of telling the truth, he said. "Those are his lawyers, trying to help him not go to jail."
Colbert finished with a brief recap of Tuesday's Senate's Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, the theatrics and the case of the missing (or last-minute) documents. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert has a passive-aggressively civil 'middle road' for eateries hosting Sarah Huckabee Sanders
President Trump's immigration policies "are making tempers flare all over the country," and that cost White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders a meal out on Friday, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "Look, applaud all you want, but my heart really goes out to her. She was separated from her appetizer. She doesn't even know where it is right now. What if it's getting cold?" He explained what happened — Sanders and her husband went out to eat with friends, and when the staff recognized her, the owner had them vote on what to do, and they politely booted her, after a free cheese-plate appetizer. "Oh good, so somebody's getting due process," Colbert deadpanned.
"I believe everyone should follow their own conscience, and I can understand why some people might celebrate this restaurant owner doing this," Colbert said. "But denying service to people you don't agree with is a slippery slope, because pretty soon we would just have liberal-only restaurants and conservative-only restaurants, and it will be a nightmare finding a place where your whole family can eat." He made an import tariff joke, then proposed "a middle road. Restaurant workers, you don't have to kick out Sarah Huckabee Sanders, just treat her the same way she treats her customers: Only take the order of the two people at the table you like, then tell Sanders, 'I'm not going to comment on whether this dish contains peanuts,' and then when the food never arrives, just say, 'I haven't talked to the chef about that yet, so I can't give you any new information. I'll be back at 2:45 tomorrow with a completely different menu that you can't order from.'"
Of course, Sanders isn't the only Trump administration official having trouble eating out protest-free. So The Late Show offered all beleaguered White House officials a movable-feast dining option, complete with "skid bag." Watch below. Peter Weber
It can be hard to keep up with all the scandals swirling around EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who is currently the subject of 13 federal investigations. The Late Show has a quick rundown masquerading as a movie trailer.
"The thing that is so shocking about Pruitt's latest round of scandals is that they're so damn petty," including spending more than $3,000 on pens and having an aide try to acquire a used Trump hotel mattress for him, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday night's show. "Well, finally answering the question, 'How does Scott Pruitt sleep at night?' It turns out: in other people's filth." He ran through some other scandals, with commentary, and ended with Pruitt's government-funded forays for moisturizer and a Silence of the Lambs clip.
It's shocking that Pruitt's scandals "haven't come from him trying to destroy the environment," but rather "his little side hustles," Trevor Noah added at The Daily Show. "Normally when you find out about corruption in D.C., it's the kind of corruption that makes you mad — you know, 'Millions in bribes!' But with every new Pruitt revelation, every time you find out, you go, 'Wait, what?'" Like Pruitt trying to officially hustle a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife: "You're the head of a major government agency, with influence over some of the biggest corporations in the world, and you decide to abuse your position to get your wife a chicken store," he said. "It's like he's Thanos and he's using the Infinity Gauntlet to cut the line at Disney World."
But Pruitt is "finding little grifts all over Washington," and once you realize that he's just extraordinarily cheap, Noah said, "all his other weird scandals start to make more sense." When Pruitt is finally fired, it won't be for ruining the environment, he predicted. "He'll go down doing what he loves," something like "stuffing his pockets with White House toilet paper." Peter Weber
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) canceled the Senate's August recess, blaming "unprecedented obstruction." Stephen Colbert agreed. "Damn right! It has been over two years — it is time to confirm Merrick Garland!" he said on Wednesday's Late Show, shaking his head that the audience doesn't even remember the Supreme Court nominee McConnell stonewalled. "Somewhere Obama is weeping," he said. And when President Trump tweet-celebrated, Colbert felt compelled to remind him Democrats aren't in charge.
Senate Republicans say they were afraid Trump would sabotage them if they left for August, hurting their chances in the midterms. "So Trump can't be left unsupervised?" Colbert asked. "They're treating the president of the United States like you would a dog near sandwiches." And with the departure of White House communications aide Kelly Sadler, "there are fewer people to dog-sit him," he added. He read Sadler's infamous leaked quote about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) "dying anyway," then deadpanned, "Wow, a quote like that is really bad for Kelly Sadler's political career, but it doesn't matter, it's dying anyway."
Sadler may not even be fired, according to Kellyanne Conway — who Colbert introduced with a sassy Dorian Gray joke — because Trump can use Sadler's skills elsewhere in the administration. "Well, her only known skill is mocking John McCain," Colbert said, "so ... president?" But he was immensely amused by Conway calling Trump "the commander of cheese." "That's not a slip of the tongue," he said. "That would be 'the commander in cheese.' The commander of cheese is an entirely different position — one, I will admit, Trump is qualified for. I mean, after all, he did win Wisconsin." He saw Conway's rhyming and raised her one.
You can watch The Late Show's "commander of cheese" reply to Conway below. Peter Weber
"The Trump White House has been plagued by incessant leaks, and judging by his tweets, the president has had enough," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. President Trump is particularly incensed about the latest big leak, the comment from a staffer about Sen. John McCain "dying anyway," because "it's made the White House look even worse than usual," Noah said, briefly running through the history of the Trump-McCain feud, ending on McCain requesting that Trump skip his funeral.
That's "the highest level of dis possible, to uninvite someone to something you're technically not really gonna be at," Noah laughed. "Personally, I would want Trump at my funeral, because I know that he'd hate being at an event that wasn't about him. You know, he'd be like, 'I can be in a hole, too, folks! I was also dead — they said I was dead, folks, 270 Electoral College votes, but I got them!'"
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a meeting to chastise staffers for leaking, and of course it immediately leaked. "So now, the leakers are leaking leaks about a meeting about what leaked," Noah said. "This is like in a relationship when you're having an argument about how much you argue." But not only is the White House not apologizing about the comment, killing the story; they won't even talk about it. "I understand what's happening here," Noah said. "In Trump's world, if you apologize, you're admitting that it happened, and for Trump, that's a sign of weakness. But here's the thing: Just because it wasn't meant to get out doesn't mean you can expect everyone to act like it didn't happen. That's not how this works." He illustrated his point by trying Sanders' tactic in a hypothetical court of law.
In Late Night's choose-your-own-response press briefing, Seth Meyers got a different kind of leaking answer out of Sanders. Watch below. Peter Weber
Seth Meyers warily looks past Ronny Jackson at the Fox News pundit Trump might tap next to lead the VA
President Trump loves to use the word "choice" when discussing the Department of Veterans Affairs, but what he really seems to mean is fully privatizing veterans' care, Seth Meyers said on Tuesday's Late Night. "There's a debate to be had, but I'll just say that the Hoover Dam has been there for almost 90 years, while the Jamba Juice on your block that used to be a Curves is now a Chipotle." Veterans have had some "choice" since 2014 — "you know, back when your Chipotle was a Radio Shack," Meyers joked — and given the choice, "studies have shown that veterans overwhelmingly prefer to go to the VA for their care."
Former VA Secretary David Shulkin says Trump fired him because he wouldn't go along with privatization plans, and Trump's pick to replace him, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, appears to be going nowhere fast, amid mounting questions about his work and personal history. And "unfortunately, when it comes to decisions involving veterans, Trump reportedly seeks the advice of Fox News personality and Iraq War veteran Pete Hegseth, who favors an overhaul of the VA and who is on Trump's short list to be the next secretary of Veterans Affairs," Meyers said. "Now, you might be unfamiliar with Hegseth because you don't watch Fox News — or you're very familiar him, which means you're just hate-watching my show, and frankly, I don't appreciate that."
Right now, the question is whether Jackson's nomination will survive — the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee has postponed confirmation hearings, and Trump is sending mixed messages, privately urging Jackson to fight while publicly questioning why he would want to go through an "ugly" confirmation process, adding, "if I were him, I wouldn't do it." That was a bridge too far for Meyers. "What do you mean, if you were him you wouldn't do it? You're even less qualified, and you did do it." Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert kicked off Wednesday's Late Show by declaring he's "still riding high" from Tuesday night's interview with former FBI Director James Comey. "I'm not sure if the president saw the interview — I hear he doesn't watch TV hosts who don't share his lawyer," he joked, but one "seemingly out-of-nowhere" tweet suggests he might have. Either way, the interview "is already healing a nation," he said, because "James Comey is now friends with the Wu-Tang Clan." (Unlike Jeff Sessions.)
"Speaking of unlikely duos," Colbert said, CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea — and he's not even secretary of state yet. "Apparently now, just anyone can have face-to-face talks with the leader of North Korea." He said he hopes the denuclearization talks are successful, and he couldn't believe "Trump kept something this big secret. How did he do it? I mean, the only possible explanation is that Michael Cohen paid him $130,000 to stay quiet about it."
The Late Show also imagined Kim's reaction to Pompeo's visit, and yes, it includes a Dennis Rodman reference.
Russian sanctions are dividing the White House, with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announcing new sanctions Sunday — before Trump then scrapped the idea over the objections of his advisers. "We tried to get a follow-up from Nikki Haley, but it's so hard to reach her under that bus," Colbert said. Trump reportedly got so angry watching Haley announce the sanctions on TV, he shouted "Who wrote that for her?" at the screen. "Fun fact, Mr. President," Colbert said: "Not all women are under legally binding agreements about what they can say."
"Trump may be angry because he accidentally appointed someone competent," but Republicans are reportedly suspicious that Haley and Vice President Mike Pence are conspiring to run together in 2020, Colbert said. "That is absurd. Mike Pence can't be on a ticket with a woman who's not his wife." Peter Weber