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On the first day that Congress began its public impeachment hearing to examine President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, late night hosts Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Samantha Bee and James Corden weighed in on the proceedings and provided comedic commentary.
The impeachment inquiry, which has been discussed by Democrats for many months and follows numerous closed-door meetings, moved forward after a whistleblower alerted officials to Trump’s controversial call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky.
On The Late Show, host Colbert declared in his opening monologue titled “Don and the Giant Impeach”: “It’s finally here, it’s finally arrived. The first day of live impeachment hearings. It’s what we’ve been praying for since the beginning of the Trump presidency: the end of the Trump presidency.” He continued to say that today’s live testimony was as dramatic as it was historic, joking, “It was the biggest ratings hit for C-SPAN 3 since Drunk History, starring Brett Kavanaugh.”
Speaking about Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, Colbert said, “Taylor had testified behind closed doors about the withholding of military aid in Ukraine, but the bombshell today was something he hadn’t testified to before.”
Giving some background, he added, “Republicans say that one impeachment survival strategy will be to try to distance President Trump from any Ukraine quid pro quo, with Rudy Giuliani potentially going under the bus.” Colbert then said, “You cannot throw Rudy Giuliani under the bus; he already lives under the bridge. How do you get the bus down there?”
In a clip from Taylor’s speech, the acting ambassador said, “Last Friday, a member of my staff told me about events that occurred on July 26 in the presence of my staff at a restaurant. Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations.”
The late night host continued his commentary. “So this staffer overheard Trump asking about a foreign nation investigating his political opponent. That’s like if they had a picture of Nixon breaking into the Watergate …”
The clip of Taylor continued, “Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine. Mr. Sondland responded that Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.”
Colbert performed an impersonation of Taylor, saying, “He also emphasized that President Trump cared more about the investigations of Biden than he did about his son Eric, who the president described as ‘the teeth one.'”
Over on The Daily Show, Noah’s focus was on diplomat George Kent, whom he joked is taking over politics. “For the first day of the public hearings, the Democrats chose to call two witnesses, Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, senior official and townsperson in a 1950s musical,” said the late night host.
He said that both men emphasized that they aren’t “team Republican or team Democrat” and showed clips of each explaining their nonpartisan position. Noah was particularly interested in the clip of Kent, who said, “I represent the third generation of my family who has chosen a career in public service. Indeed, there has been a George Kent sworn to defend the constitution for nearly 60 years.”
Noah then said, “Oooh, it almost sounds like the only reason America keeps running is because of George Kents. If America’s an office, George Kent is the only guy who knows how to fix the printer.” He added that there is going to be a lot of pressure on the next George Kent.
“So both of these men are devoted civil servants,” Noah continued. “So if you hear them saying that Trump did some messed-up shit, you know to take it seriously.”
A clip was shown of Taylor saying, “According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference. Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman, and when a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, the business man asks that person to pay up before signing the check.”
Taylor concluded, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Asked to clarify this at the hearing, he said: “By crazy, [I mean] illogical, could not be explained, it was crazy.”
Noah zeroed in on this moment. “Hmm. Unexplainable, illogical, crazy. That’s the description Bill Taylor gave of Trump’s actions. It’s also the title of Trump’s new memoir.” He showed a graphic of a picture book emblazoned with the title Unexplainable, Illogical, Crazy by Donald Trump.
Meyers devoted a “Closer Look” segment to the impeachment hearing, noting that this is the fourth time Congress has launched public impeachment proceedings against a sitting president. “And that is not the club you want to be in,” he said. “There are two presidents who have actually gotten impeached [Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton] and the third, Richard Nixon, who was so desperate to avoid it, he quit first. Remember the famous shot of Nixon getting in the helicopter? If that had been Trump, the secret service would have tied him to the helicopter by his leg and air-lifted him out.”
Meyers then launched into an impersonation of the president: “Drop me off at a Wendy’s.”
Speaking of the “compelling” evidence against Trump, Meyers said that even some conservatives have called for Trump’s impeachment — such as George Conway. In an MSNBC clip, Conway was asked what the case is for impeachment, to the Republicans he’s known for his whole career. “The case is, take that Republican hat off and look at it neutrally,” Conway replied. Meyers joked, “It is so weird to watch them dance around the fact that he’s married to Kellyanne Conway. He continued on this train of thought: “So what do you say if you’re alone with a Republican, say in a kitchen or in the car on the way to dinner … or to a Republican you’ve exchanged vows with …”
Touching on the evidence laid out by Adam Schiff, Meyers highlighted a crucial point: “The facts in the present inquiry are not seriously contested.” Meyers said, “They’ve basically admitted to all of it,” adding that there are detailed documents where Trump says to Ukraine officials, “I have a favor to ask … ” and that Giuliani has done multiple interviews where he “shows off his communications” with Trump officials on his phone and iPad on national television.
“You know you’re a bad criminal when you keep the evidence against you on multiple devices,” Meyers said. He then showed a graphic of an iPhone storage chart. “Crimes” took up most of the content on his phone.
Over on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the ABC host gave his viewers a recap of the impeachment hearing.
Kimmel noted that California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes “was much more interested in defending the president than in getting the facts.” While showing clips from Nunes’ statement, the show added a MAGA cowboy-styled hat to Nunes’ head.
“Republicans did their best. It really was something. Devin Nunes set the stupid bar to start it off, then John Ratcliffe of Texas topped it immediately, then Chris Stewart of Utah came in and took the stupid crown for himself,” he said. “Just when you think that’s it, we’ve reached the bottom level of human intelligence, in comes Jim Jordan from Ohio to take gold.” Kimmel added that “people were actually laughing at [Jordan] during the hearing.”
Kimmel later shared that Taylor revealed Trump wanted the Ukrainian president to announce the investigation into Biden on CNN. “Illegality aside, this is the dumbest plan ever,” said Kimmel.
“This is a stressful day for the president. The Popeyes near the White House, they had to waive their two chicken sandwiches per person limit today for him,” joked Kimmel.
The host added that Trump called the hearing a “joke” and a “hoax” and also claimed he didn’t watch it. “A White House spokesperson said the president was too busy working. He might as well have said he was at a Zumba class,” said Kimmel.
The segment concluded with a clip of an actor portraying Trump watching the hearing. In the clip, Trump angrily threw a bucket of fried chicken at a White House employee.
On The Tonight Show, Fallon said that Trump wanted to watch the hearing but couldn’t because “he threw his TV remote out the window when he wasn’t named People magazine’s sexiest man of the year.
Fallon shared that emotional support dogs were brought in to help members of Congress deal with the stress of the hearing. “If you think you had a rough day, think about the dog that had to spend 12 hours cuddling with Mitch McConnell,” he said.
After giving a brief recap of the hearing, Fallon said that “a lot of people really liked Taylor’s voice and thought he should narrate a podcast or a TV show.” The host said, “While he testified, a bunch of judges from The Voice turned their chairs around.”
Fallon also joked that Taylor and Kent were asked “a few more questions than usual” while swearing in under oath. Clips followed of the men saying “I do” after being asked if they agree that John Legend is the sexiest man alive, what their favorite 98 Degrees song is and if they would rather be watching 101 Dalmatians.
Fallon also reprised his Trump impression to host Impeachment After Dark Live.
“I thought this whole impeachment thing would go away by now, like a common cold or a second wife,” Fallon said as Trump. “And worse, now you can’t even get the truth from shows like Fox and Frenemies.”
The host said that the hearings had him on the edge of his seat, like “when Rudy Giuliani goes on Fox News or when Stephen Miller texts me ‘kk.’ Stop right there, Stephen.”
Fallon said that the hearing started out “totally full of Schiff” before he shared a clip of Kent, who wore a bowtie. “You’re gonna take foreign policy advice from Orville Impeachmentbacher?” the host asked.
He later showed clips from Taylor’s testimony, which was edited to make it appear as if the ambassador was praising Trump.
“Trump’s here to stay. I’ll be president for four more years, then I’ll do eight years as Kanye’s vp” he said. “Then I’ll finally harden into a ball of hairspray and I’ll be laid to rest on a Florida golf course.”
Tony Hale also made a cameo in the sketch as his character Gary from Veep. After Fallon asked his assistant for water, Gary handed him a bottle of Diet Coke.
“In summary, if you’re still wondering if I’m guilty, all I have to say is read the transcript,” Fallon concluded.
O’Brien joked that the Conan team didn’t write any comedy that day because they were so invested in the hearing.
The TBS host said that Trump claimed to be cleaning out his desk instead of watching the hearing. “He has just a bunch of Burger King Crowns that came with the meal,” O’Brien joked about what was in Trump’s desk.
O’Brien added that some people believe that the “damning” new evidence against Trump could end his presidency, though he cut himself off and said, “Wait, I’m sorry. This joke is from two years ago.”
“That joke is also from one year ago. And six months ago,” he said. “We’ve used that cue card 15 times.”
Bee also touched on the impeachment hearing during Full Frontal. “I can’t wait to finally eat a piece of the impeachment cake I baked three years ago,” she said.
After Bee shared clips of Trump stating that he didn’t watch the hearings, she mocked, “Oh, you were having hearings? I didn’t even see them. I just watched them and heard them and anyways, whatever, you’re too ugly to be on TV.”
The host added that Kent debunked Trump’s conspiracy theories about Ukraine. “Kent kept his cool even after hours of our testimony, except for that one time a pretty lady walked by and his lucky bowtie spun around,” joked Bee.
Bee then spoke about Taylor’s revelation that Trump knew about the attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. “Which is the first we’ve gotten hard confirmation about that since Trump himself,” she said. “This is what these hearings are gonna be like all the way through. Every bombshell will just be confirming things we already know.”
Over on The Late Late Show, Corden admitted he found the hearing “a little confusing at times.”
He thought that Jordan’s questions were complicated and then showed a clip of the U.S. representative dropping a bunch of names in a matter of seconds. “This is what I sound like when I explain the Kardashians to my dad,” said Corden.
“Jim Jordan’s questions are almost as hard to understand as his hairline,” the host added. “His scalp looks like it’s impeaching his follicles.”
Many people, including Eric Trump, took to Twitter to call the hearings boring. “He does know that ‘boring’ is not the same as ‘wrong,’ right?” asked Corden. “When there is a murder trial and an expert witness is presenting detailed evidence, the judge doesn’t go, ‘Boring!'”
The host noted that Rep. Jackie Speier had a paper clip in her hair during the impeachment inquiry. “And Eric Trump thinks this is boring?” he asked.
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