Stephen Colbert Brutally Mocks Rachel Maddow's Lengthy Trump Tax Form Tease
'The Late Show' host teased the punchline to an exclusive joke about President Donald Trump for nearly three minutes while dressed as the MSNBC host.
Stephen Colbert poked fun at MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday's Late Show, following Maddow's show on Tuesday night when she revealed two of President Donald Trump's tax forms.
"I hold in my hand something very significant," Colbert said, dressed in Maddow's signature blazer in front of a graphic that resembled the backdrop used on The Rachel Maddow Show. "It is a joke, a joke that we have confirmed has been heard by Donald Trump. We believe this is the first time any joke dealing with Donald Trump has been released."
Colbert rambled on, poking fun at Maddow's nearly 20-minute-long preamble intro on Tuesday's program before revealing the tax information, an act that made Maddow the subject of much Twitter mockery.
"Why did the chicken ...," Colbert teased before adding, "but first a word on chickens" and segueing into a lengthy informational rant on the fowls and pulled out a live chicken in a necktie.
"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Colbert finally continued. "OK, what are roads?" he added, launching into another series of non-sequiturs.
When it finally seemed as though Colbert would deliver the punchline, he tossed to commercial.
Maddow had invited investigative journalist David Cay Johnston onto her show to reveal two less-than-revelatory leaked pages from Trump's 2005 1040 form. The Pulitzer prize-winning reporter said the information was delivered to him anonymously, and unsolicited, in the mail.
Based on the documents, Trump paid $36.5 million in taxes on $153 million in income, for an effective tax rate of around 24 percent. That percentage is higher than what the average American pays each year, but below the 27.4 percent that taxpayers earning $1 million a year pay on average, according to data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.
The White House pushed back pre-emptively ahead of the on-air reveal, saying that publishing the returns would be illegal. Trump later doubled-down on the "illegal" accusation when he called Maddow's reporting on the leak "a disgrace."
"I have no idea where they got it, but it’s illegal and they’re not supposed to have it, and it's not supposed to be leaked," Trump told Fox News' Tucker Carlson. "It’s certainly not an embarrassing tax return at all, but it’s an illegal thing. They’ve been doing it, they’ve done it before and I think it’s a disgrace."
Trump's tax returns have become a highly sought after get ever since he broke a decades-long tradition by refusing to release them during his presidential campaign. During her segment, Maddow argued that MSNBC was exercising its First Amendment right to publish the information.
Maddow visited The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday night, where she explained that they had a back-up show prepared if the documents weren't authenticated and why it was so important to go with the report once they were ultimately verified by the White House.
"I think people are really concerned to see what's in those tax returns," she said. "And so, when we found out that we had one, it was like speaking to a group of people dying of thirst in the desert and we're like, 'Behold, we have found a drop.'"
She then addressed Trump's initial tweet calling the report "fake news" — which came after the White House did indeed authenticate the information.
"If you want your White House to authenticate this document, and say, 'That is a real document,' that's one thing. If you also want to say, 'That is fake!' that's one thing," she said. "But you then can't be the same person. You can't be the White House and the President saying: Authentic! Fake! Authentic! Fake! The White House and the president are different people? They speak in different language on this?"
Adding, "I'm happy to deal with either one of these assertions, that it's authentic or that it's fake — but pick one."