Late-Night Hosts Break Down Second Week of Impeachment Hearings

Stephen Colbert on The Late Show CBS, Seth Meyers on Late Night NBC and Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live - Publicity stills - Split - H 2019
Courtesy of Networks

Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel summarized what Americans learned during the latest testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Late-night hosts recapped the second week of Donald Trump's impeachment hearings Thursday night.

Over on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert responded to reports that some people had a difficult time following the hearings. "Are you seriously claiming that it's not easy for Americans to follow sagas with a lot of characters?" he asked. "Have you heard of Game of Thrones?"

Colbert also recapped Trump's phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky about investigating Joe Biden, in the form of a catchy jingle. Accompanied by the house band, Colbert sang, "There's just one thing that you need to know. Trump said, 'Do us a favor, though.'"

The host then explained Thursday's hearing, which included testimony from diplomatic aide David Holmes. While on the stand, Holmes recalled Ambassador Gordon Sondland saying that Rudy Giuliani "f's everything up" when he gets involved.

While Holmes is best known for overhearing Trump's phone call with Zelensky, Trump tweeted that it was impossible Holmes heard the conversation, because the call was not on speakerphone.

Former White House adviser Fiona Hill also testified Thursday. "The first butts she booted this morning were Republicans who insist on floating bizarre conspiracy theories about the 2016 election," said Colbert before playing clips from Hill's testimony.

Hill said the Russian government's goal is to weaken the United States, and that no one likes Giuliani. She also said she attended a meeting with John Bolton, Rick Perry and Sondland "where Sondland brought up the conditions for Zelensky to get a meeting with Trump." Following the meeting, Bolton told Hill to go to the NSC lawyer immediately.

Also during her testimony, Hill said she told Sondland his plan would blow up. "And now that it has, I have prepared a brief statement," Colbert said with an impression of Hill. "In your face. I was right, so suck it."

Seth Meyers took on the second week of the hearings during an edition of his "Closer Look" segment on Late Night.

"The testimony this week has directly tied virtually every senior official in Trump's inner circle to a corrupt quid pro quo, in which the president used hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money appropriated by Congress to solicit a bribe from a foreign country to help him in the 2020 election," said Meyers. "That's the major takeaway I wish everyone would remember."

While Trump has been vocal about there being no quid pro quo, Sondland admitted on the stand that a quid pro quo did exist.

"Everyone in the White House knew what was going on. In fact, Sondland named tons of people, from Trump to Vice President Mike Pence, all the way down the chain," said Meyers before a clip showed Sondland listing everyone involved. "It's like he was reading from a phone book of criminals. I guess in this case it would be called 'the Very White Pages.'"

"In many ways, we already knew the core facts at the heart of the case, but this week's testimonies made it clear as day. Yes, there was a quid pro quo. Yes, it was ordered by the president. Yes, everyone else knew about it. And yes, it was designed specifically to help Trump win the 2020 election," Meyers said.

The host noted that the other line of defense used by the Republicans was that Trump "was just concerned about corruption in Ukraine in general," though clips followed of Sondland hesitantly saying that the investigation was designed to benefit Trump.

Meyers then took on Holmes' testimony, which included him recalling a conversation in which Sondland said Trump didn't care about Ukraine.

Meyers concluded the segment with a recap. "There was a corrupt quid pro quo in which the president of the United States solicited a bribe from a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election, and everyone knew about it. We have the testimony. We have the evidence. That's it. It's an open and shut case," he said. "The Republicans have no defense, so all they can do is lie and attack the witnesses."

Over on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the ABC host focused on Hill's testimony.

"She directly called out Republicans for spreading what she calls the fictional narrative that suggests Ukraine meddled in our election in 2016, because they didn't. The Russians did," he said. Kimmel joked that Republicans were so intimidated by Hill that they stopped asking her questions.

Kimmel also quipped that Ben Carson was the only member of the administration not involved in the hearings because "he's been asleep for the past three years."

"While we've heard a lot this week, the big question that we still don't have an answer on: 'Is Jim Jordan on methamphetamines?'" the host said about the Republican congressman. "Jim Jordan, if he was a character in a movie you'd go, 'Ahh, it's too much.'"

Kimmel later said Trump wanted Biden's son Hunter "to be like the 2020 version of Hillary's emails." Following Giuliani's mission to plant seeds in Ukraine, Trump recruited Sondland "to get together with Rudy [Giuliani] to put the screws to the new Ukrainian president, who desperately needed U.S. backing, because he's at war with the Russians."

Just as Zelensky was about to announce the investigation, the plan backfired and the phone call came out, Kimmel said. "Trump quickly released the aid. He dictates a bogus message to Sondland saying, 'I want no quid pro quo,' and they all crossed their fingers and hoped that no one ever mentions it again," said Kimmel.

"The question now going forward for those congresspeople who support him is, 'Are you a Republican or are you an American?'" said the host.