Late Night Hosts Tackle Senate Impeachment Trial: A "Mockery of Our Democracy"

Randy Holmes/ABC

Trevor Noah produced a fake instructional video for "jurors" while Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and James Corden railed against the rules proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Late night hosts returned to the topic of removing President Trump from office on their Tuesday night shows after the Senate impeachment trial got underway in D.C. earlier that day.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent articles of impeachment over to the Senate last week, the Senate trial began on Tuesday afternoon with debate over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's rules for the proceeding. Trump was in Davos, Switzerland on the first day of the World Economic Forum.

On Comedy Central's The Daily Show, host Trevor Noah produced a fake instructional video for the Senate "jury" called to prevail over Trump's impeachment trial. Given that a juror should be impartial, Noah said in the video, "The following remarks by the defendant should not be considered when rendering your verdict." Noah then played video clips of Trump calling Sen. Ted Cruz "Lyin' Ted," perpetuating the Obama birther conspiracy and lending credence to a National Enquirer story claiming Cruz's father was "linked to [the] JFK assassination," among other moments.

"Jurors are instructed to disregard these insults. Thank you for doing your civic duty," Noah ended the spot.

Over on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert tackled the first day of the impeachment trial with the latest installment of his recurring segment, "Don and the Giant Impeach." "Today is just day one of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump," he began. "It is a pivotal day in the history of the republic. Soon, we will find out if breaking the law is illegal. Gotta say, so far, I don’t like the odds."

He went on to clarify that, technically, the trial begins tomorrow. "Today was the debate about the rules proposed by Senate majority leader and scrotum of the opera, Mitch McConnell," said Colbert. "His rules say that the Senate has to vote on whether they want to consider new evidence at all, and McConnell has not guaranteed that the trial will include witnesses."

The late night host then launched into a joke. "No evidence, no witnesses, just a hundred old people stuck in a room together. This isn’t a trial, it’s the four o’clock dinner rush at Denny’s. Or a matinee in Branson, Missouri."

Continuing with the segment, Colbert said, "But if for some wild crazy chance, in a world where teacups dance and monkeys eat meat, it turns out that there are witnesses, McConnell has a built-in fail-safe because if the majority decide to call witnesses, that witness would be interviewed behind closed doors, meaning they’d never testify in public."

In an impersonation of the senator, Colbert said, "The American people deserve a fair and transparent process. Now place the testimony hood over the witness' head and drag him into the fact dungeon and beat him with the truth hose." 

Jimmy Kimmel Live! host Kimmel, meanwhile, took a swipe at McConnell over the initial rules he proposed for the impeachment trial. The original schedule would have given the prosecution and defense 24 hours for argument, 12 hours each, over two days; McConnell adjusted the rules on Tuesday to give the defense and prosecution one more day to make arguments. "Under the rules going forward the trial won’t even begin until 1 p.m. every day, which seems a little late, but in fairness, that is how long it takes Senator McConnell to get to the Senate floor," Kimmel joked.

Kimmel added, "[McConnell] and his fellow Republicans keep saying that they’re following the template established in the Clinton impeachment trial, even though this trial is very different: Bill Clinton had sex with one person. Donald Trump screwed a whole country."

The ABC host ultimately argued that Republican senators would do their utmost to withhold evidence from entering the trial and so urged viewers to "use this mockery of our democracy to motivate yourself and others to register to vote." He added as a kicker: "And in the meantime, these senators are gonna be locked in that room for quite a while. They are not allowed to leave the chamber during the trial, attendance is mandatory and they are not allowed to bring phones or electronic devices in, with one exception. Ted Cruz will be provided with an iPad so he can quietly watch porn. But that’s it; nobody else."

Over on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon joked that Republicans are calling the impeachment trials "the biggest waste of time since they saw a double feature of Cats and Dolittle."

Fallon touched on the strict rules that Senators cannot use their phones and must remain silent during the trials. "Meanwhile, Trump will be screaming at the TV while tweeting from the toilet," he said.

The senators are also only allowed to drink water and milk while on the Senate floor. "The only other place you'll see water and milk is in Mike Pence's beer helmet," said Fallon.

"Each day of the impeachment trial will begin with the proclamation, 'All persons are commanded to keep silence on pain and imprisonment,'" said the host. "Senators heard that and were like, 'We're spending eight hours a day with Ted Cruz. How much worse could prison be?'"

Fallon added that Trump is currently at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. "Apparently when he asked his lawyers, 'How can I help?,' they handed him a plane ticket," he said.  

Seth Meyers also discussed McConnell's rules for the trial on Late Night.

"To keep things simple, he revealed the rules by emoji," Meyers said before the monkey emojis covering their eyes, ears and mouths appeared onscreen.

James Corden was the next late-night host to poke fun at McConnell's rules on The Late Late Show.

"The debate over the rules got off to a pretty bad start when Trump's legal team opened with, 'No take-backs, finders keepers and the president is adamant about this: Whoever smelt it, dealt it,'" said Corden.

The CBS host warned his audience to not get too excited about the trial. "The Republicans control the Senate, so you can expect it to be about as legitimate as a USC application from a celebrity's child," he said.

"It got contentious, but the one thing every single senator could agree on, Brad and Jen still look great together," the host later joked about Pitt and Aniston's reunion at the SAG Awards.