9:56am PT by Katherine Schaffstall
Late-Night Hosts React to Michael Cohen Pleading Guilty About Lying to Congress
Late-night hosts had a lot to say about Michael Cohen's guilty plea on Thursday.
Trump's former lawyer pleaded guilty to telling lies to Congress regarding the timing and extent of his negotiations over a Russian real estate deal that involved Trump's business. While Cohen originally claimed that the conversations ended in Jan. 2016, they actually continued until June 2016, which aligned with Trump's presidential campaign.
On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah told his audience that the guilty plea marked another big day in the Robert Mueller investigation, who has been investigating Trump's ties to Russia. "Since this thing is not ending anytime soon, we figured we'd start keeping up with it in a new segment called 'Mo Mueller, Mo Problems,'" he said.
Noah compared the investigation to The Wire. "It's got a long, winding plot, a huge list of shady characters. Wiretaps, secret phone calls. It's got everything The Wire has except black people," he said. The host called Thursday's news "a Michael Cohen episode."
He explained why Cohen's latest lie is so important. "It puts Trump's contact with Russia much closer to him being president, right? In Jan. 2016, Trump was just one of 17 possible morons who could become the GOP nominee, but by June he was the only moron who could become the nominee," said Noah.
"If Trump's people aren't trying to cover up any nefarious activities, why does everyone keep lying?" he asked, after noting that Cohen is not the first of Trump's employees to be caught in a lie.
Noah then shared a clip from Trump's response to the Cohen news. "I didn't do the project. I decided not to do the project, so I didn't do it," he said, before continuing to deny that he went through with the real estate deal. "[Cohen]'s a weak person and what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence, so he's lying about a project that everybody knew about. Now, here's the thing. Even if he was right, it doesn't matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign."
"According to the president, Cohen is lying and also not lying. Somehow it's both," said Noah. "Trump is the only person whose explanations include every possible outcome, right? Yeah, it's like one of those choose your own adventure books. He's like, 'If I didn't do it, go to page three, but if I did it — it was totally okay — go to page five.'"
Noah asked why Trump would deal with Russia at all during the election. "Why not just avoid the conflict all together? Well, turn to page bullshit to find out," he said.
A clip followed of Trump justifying the deal by stating that he wouldn't drop his business during the election because there was no guarantee that he would win. "Did you hear what he just said? Wait, he said the reason that he didn't stop his business dealings is because he also thought he would lose," said Noah. "Yeah, I agree with him now."
"You have to see how shady this is. No president in modern history has run for office while also working a side hustle," he said. "Say what you want about Hillary. She had her faults, but one thing we never heard was, 'I'm running to be your president, but in case it doesn't work out, please give me five stars.'" The clip concluded with an image of Clinton driving a Lyft car.
Stephen Colbert updated his viewers about Cohen's guilty plea on The Late Show.
The host showed his audience side by side photos of Cohen from Thursday and from April. Cohen appeared much more tired and unkempt in the more recent photo. "Remember kids, this is your lawyer," he said as he shared the older photo. The more recent photo then appeared onscreen and Colbert said, "This is your lawyer on Trump."
Colbert said Cohen discussed the business deal with Vladimir Putin. "That always means something shady, when you're calling Vladimir Putin's office. I mean, just listen to his outgoing message," he said. "If you would like to collude, press one. If you are reporter, please be patient. You will be murdered in the order that you called," a voice said in a Russian accent.
After playing the clip of Trump stating that Cohen confessed in order to reduce his sentence, the host used his Trump impression to continue the statement. "It's terrible because this time I'm not paying him to lie. Okay, he's lying pro bono. Before I was paying him to say I never boned all the pros."
Colbert later asked his audience which former aide — Cohen or Paul Manafort — Trump is more likely to pardon. Clips followed of Trump repeatedly calling Cohen "weak." As for Manafort, Trump said, "It's very sad what's happened to Paul. The way he's being treated. I've never seen anybody treated so poorly." Mueller recently accused Manafort of lying to investigators.
"We have a winner. Paul Manafort, you and your ostrich-skin coat will enjoy an all-expense-paid trip to fabulous Washington, D.C. for a luxurious pardon ceremony," Colbert said with an announcer impersonation. "Then set sail on Collusion Cruise Lines, where during the middle of the night you'll be smeared with sheep's blood and dropped into shark-infested water to silence you forever. All of this can be yours if you just shut your trap."
Colbert then shared a compilation of clips in which Trump claimed that the potential deal with Russia shouldn't matter because he never went through with it. "So there you have it. Simple, non-panicked explanation. It's all explained in his best-selling book The Art of the Deal That Didn't Happen. It Was No Deal. We Had A Position to Possibly Do A Deal and Everybody Knew About It. I Decided Not to Do It. There Would Have Been Nothing Wrong If I Did Do It," joked Colbert.
The host also shared a clip of Trump stating that he couldn’t hear a reporter because a nearby helicopter was too loud. "Oh, really? That's a helicopter?" said Colbert. "I thought that was the sound of your presidency going down the toilet."
Over on The Late Late Show, James Corden joked that Cohen "was just lying to cover up how incredibly innocent Trump is in the whole thing."
Corden added that Donald Trump Jr. was "extremely upset" when he heard the news. "He was like, 'Hey, lying to Congress about working with the Russians is my thing.'"
Jimmy Fallon also addressed the news on The Tonight Show.
After he stated that Cohen used to be one of Trump's closest allies, Fallon said that Trump may be in search of new friends. "I'm not saying Trump's running out of friends, but today he asked Rosie O'Donnell if she wanted to get lunch," he joked, referencing one of Trump's most famous enemies.
Fallon added that Cohen said he is cooperating with Mueller's investigation to "put family and country first." He continued, "Trump replied, 'I totally agree. Wait, you're talking about my family, right?'"
The host then shared a clip of Trump from Thursday morning's press conference, in which he acted out Cohen signing a letter that he brought up during his guilty plea. Fallon responded to the clip by joking that Trump was trying to play charades with the reporters.
"While he called on reporters, Trump had an interesting way of using his finger to point at who he wanted to speak next," added Fallon before he showed a clip of Trump waving his finger as he selected which reporters he would take questions from. "It's like he's trying to cast a spell on reporters. Like, 'Fake Newsicus!"'