6:49pm PT by Lexy Perez, Sharareh Drury, Katherine Schaffstall
Late Night Hosts React to Mueller Testimony: "He Wasn't Thrilled"
After Robert Mueller testified before Congress, late night hosts were quick to add commentary to the former special counsel's appearance during their Wednesday night shows.
During the televised Capitol Hill hearings, Mueller dismissed President Donald Trump's claims of total exoneration in the federal probe of Russia's 2016 election interference, telling Congress he explicitly did not clear the president of obstructing his investigation. The former special counsel also rejected Trump's assertions that the probe was a "witch hunt" and hoax.
On Late Night, Seth Meyers took "A Closer Look" at the testimony and was quick to point out that Mueller "didn't seem thrilled" to be testifying. "He had the same look on his face that Billy Joel has when someone says, 'Play 'Piano Man!'"
During the testimony hearing, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler asked Mueller about his attempts to interview Trump for more than a year, all of which the president refused. Meyers suggested Mueller did not go through the proper channels. "Fox News or send him a rambling tweet that praises him in syntax he's familiar with," he said.
Meyers also poked fun at Rep. John Ratcliffe stating that Trump is neither "above" nor "below" the law. "No, I agree because that isn't a thing," Meyers sarcastically said. "Though if anyone could be below the law, it's Donald Trump. Donald Trump looks up at the law the same way he looks up at an eclipse." He added: "Below the law sounds like a straight-to-video Steven Seagal video starring Donald Trump."
The late night host took another jab at Trump, describing the testimony as something too "fast" for the president to understand because he's used to watching Fox News, "where his favorite hosts speak slowly and loudly in words he can understand."
As for when Mueller said Trump could be charged after his term, Meyers said, "You know when Trump heard that he started pushing the sofa in front of the door."
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert commented that the "bombshell" of the hearing was not related to Trump but rather to Mueller's "gangster nickname," described as "Bobby Three Sticks." However, Colbert later noted one issue during the hearings was Mueller's choice of words. When asked by Nadler to explain to the American people whether the president was exonerated by his report, Mueller answered Trump "was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed."
Colbert suggested Mueller might be more successful if he had just used "America talk" — in other words, emojis — to explain his findings. One example, for Trump, Colbert suggested, could have been the orange and handcuffs emoji.
During his testimony, Mueller confirmed that he could charge Trump with a crime after he left office. On The Late Show, Colbert made fun of the moment by creating a montage of anchor sound bites quoting Trump saying "I'm fucked."
Over at The Daily Show, Trevor Noah highlighted Republican attempts to portray Mueller as incompetent or biased. One such example was Rep. Louie Gohmert questioning the former special counsel about his relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, to which Mueller responded they were "business associates."
"Poor James Comey. Imagine finding out your friend isn't your friend in front of a live national audience," Noah said. "In interviews, Comey was like, 'This guy's my ride or die,' and now Mueller is like, 'We only hung out because he had a Nintendo, OK?'"
Noah also commented on Mueller's confirmation that Trump could be charged after leaving office, joking that the president already has a solution. "Trump is never leaving office. He hears that the Secret Service is going to be banging on the Oval Office door like, 'Sir, you need to leave' and he'll be like, 'No housekeeping. Thank you!'"
Over on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the ABC host shared that Washington, D.C.-based bars opened early on Wednesday for people to watch the testimony. "I know this is interesting, but if you're watching a hearing at a bar at 8:30 [in the morning], you're probably an alcoholic," Kimmel said.
Kimmel said that he watched the hearings with his kids. "I asked my 5-year-old if she was ready for school this morning. She said that was outside her purview and referred me to the report," he said.
The host also said that Mueller's appearance was "low-key" but what he said was "devastating." Kimmel then shared a clip from the testimony in which Mueller confirmed that he didn't completely exonerate Trump. "Oh, to be a McNugget on the White House wall when Trump saw that," said Kimmel.
Another clip from the hearing showed Mueller confirming that the government can charge Trump with obstruction of justice after his presidency is over. "That's when you could hear Melania cheering loudly down the block," said Kimmel.
Kimmel later said that the Republicans who asked Mueller questions during the hearings care more about their side winning than they care about learning the truth from Mueller. "Normally when people fall on their knees for Trump like that, he pays them $130,000 afterward in hush money," responded Kimmel. "Tomorrow Trump will stroll out on the White House lawn and call Mexicans piñata heads or something and we'll all be on to that. We'll all move on."
While Trump said that he didn't plan on watching the hearings closely, Kimmel shared that the president posted 20 tweets about it. "He walked out on the White House lawn after and surprisingly he was in a very good mood," said Kimmel before he shared a clip of Trump yelling at reporters that they are "fake news." The host responded, "I wouldn't want to be an ice cream spoon in the White House tonight."
Jimmy Fallon also shared his thoughts on the testimony during The Tonight Show.
"I don't want to say watching it was draining, but by the end every American looked like Robert Mueller," he joked.
The host then explained that 60 lawmakers grilled Mueller for six hours. "The only other time you get grilled like that is if you're single at your family reunion," said Fallon.
"Mueller said the reason he couldn't charge Trump with the crime is because he can't indict a sitting president," recapped Fallon. "That's why for the last 12 hours, Trump's been afraid to get up from the couch."
"A lot of people in the media said that Mueller came across as old and slow," continued Fallon. "On the bright side, he's now the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president."
Fallon also poked fun at Mueller's mispronunciation of Trump as "Trimp" during the hearing. "Then Trump was like, 'See, it was Trimp who obstructed. Not Trump, Trimp. Lock him up,'" he said doing his Trump impression.
"After all the hype and questioning, I don't think anybody's changed their mind about anything. Democrats are still thinking about impeachment. Republicans are still saying case closed," said Fallon. "America hasn't been this divided since the trailer for the Cats movie came out."
The segment concluded with announcer Steve Higgins cutting off Fallon's monologue to intensely question him about his past jokes.
Over on Full Frontal, Samantha Bee said that "the hearings themselves were incredibly dull."
Despite the slow-moving testimony, Bee said that Americans were "treated to a one-man show by Rudy Giuliani, newly glowing from his vacation at the caramel factory." Clips of Giuliani's appearance on Fox and Friends followed in which Trump's attorney said that Mueller should "give back half his money because he only did half the case" and mimicked Mueller saying, "Obstruction of justice."
"Mueller made it clear well before these hearings that he didn't want to be there and that he would not provide any new information," explained Bee. "Boy, did he deliver." The comment was followed by clips of Mueller repeatedly stating that he would not answer specific questions.
Bee also said that it looked like Mueller "aged 10 years" during the testimony. "He gave his testimony with all the enthusiasm and passion of a recently fired basset hound," she said. "The only way Mueller could've looked less interested in testifying this morning is if he spent the morning wearing glasses with open eyes painted on them."
The host then imagined what Mueller was thinking during the testimony: that he would rather be watching JAG reruns and the lyrics to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful."
Many Democrats were disappointed by the lack of new information, though Bee assured her viewers that new information from Mueller isn't necessary to impeach Trump. "If you've been waiting for evidence that Donald Trump should be impeached, you already have it. It is called the Mueller Report," she said. "You have everything you need to try to decide the question. Should Donald Trump be impeached? And the answer is yes."
"We don't need to force the world's grumpiest law daddy to read between the lines of his report when you could just read the lines," Bee concluded.