Late-night hosts react to Robert Mueller's congressional testimony
Wednesday was a big day on Capitol Hill. Robert Mueller, who spent the last few years as a special counsel investigating President Donald Trump for possible obstruction of justice related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, was brought before Congress to testify about the report produced by his investigation. And late-night talk show hosts had a lot to say about it.
On Late Night, Seth Meyers dedicated a “Closer Look” segment to the testimony. He clearly had the most fun analyzing Trump’s reaction to the hearing. Despite saying he wouldn’t watch the proceedings, the president clearly did, firing off a string of tweets about what he calls “the greatest witch hunt in U.S. history.” Meyers compared his attitude to that of a bitter grandparent who “won’t stop talking about how you never call. ‘I never hear from you. Not a phone call, not an email, not even a card. Still, I don’t complain.'”
Mueller himself did try to contact Trump for an interview for more than a year, but the president always refused. Meyers suggested he should have tried a different tactic: “If you want Trump to give you an answer, you either need to go on Fox News or send him a rambling tweet that praises him in syntax he’s familiar with.”
All in all, Meyers found the hearing to be mostly a confirmation of what was already in Mueller’s report. The biggest takeaway for most people was Mueller’s admission that, though Justice Department guidelines prevent the indictment of a sitting president, Trump or any other president could be charged with a crime after leaving office — but even that was pretty obvious. Most of the questions from Democrats involved asking Mueller if something was in his report, and him confirming that it was.
“That’s why this whole thing was so weird: He already wrote down everything he knows,” Meyers said. “It’s like if you brought in Ernest Hemingway to grill him about one of his books. ‘Is it true that one of the characters is an old man?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And he is, in fact, on the sea?’ ‘That is correct.'”
Meanwhile, over on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert’s favorite takeaway was the revelation from news coverage of the hearing that Mueller has sometimes been nicknamed “Bobby Three Sticks” (in reference to his full name, Robert Mueller III). Colbert laughed at the “gangster nickname” and launched into a mafioso impression.
The hearing itself was much less flavorful. Colbert became visibly frustrated after playing a clip of Mueller struggling to respond to House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler’s request that he state in plain language what it means that his report did not “totally exonerate” Trump. The best Mueller could do was use a synonym for “exonerated,” “exculpated.”
“Come on! ‘Exculpated’?” Colbert exclaimed. “Did you not hear the guy say ‘so the American people can understand it’? Did your granddaughter give you a word-of-the-day calendar? Come on! Just use America talk! By which I mean emojis: Orange, handcuffs. We need simple slogans.”
That wasn’t all of Colbert’s Mueller coverage, however. In another segment, Colbert spliced himself into footage of the hearing, making it seem like Mueller was responding to his own bizarre questions rather than those of Congress. To wit: “Is Donald Trump the most corrupt president in all parallel universes, alternate dimensions, and nether realms?” “If it’s in the report, that is accurate.”
Colbert had also booked Fox News anchor Chris Wallace as a guest on Wednesday night. Trump had quoted Wallace in a tweet earlier in the day calling the hearing “a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.” Colbert tried to push Wallace on this point, but he responded, “Let me just say, nothing in your monologue disproved that description.”
Watch the clips above.