Late-night hosts react to violent Capitol breach: 'Today was terrorism'
Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and more weighed in on Donald Trump supporters rushing the Capitol on Wednesday.
Like many people who had their eyes glued to news out of Washington, D.C., late-night hosts tried to make sense of today's events, which saw thousands of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the U.S. Capitol to protest Joe Biden's presidential victory as Congress met to certify the votes of the Electoral College.
Each host expressed their disappointment and sadness, with Jimmy Fallon specifically equating the actions of the rioters with "terrorism." Still, he and James Corden both spoke about their hope for the country to improve, while Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel directed their ire at Trump and Republican lawmakers they accused of inciting violence. See how each host reacted in their monologues below.
Colbert, who said he's rarely "been as upset as I am tonight" on tonight's Late Show, called out Republican congressmen who backed Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.
"Hey, Republicans who supported this president, especially the ones in the joint session of Congress today, have you had enough?" Colbert asked. "Who could have seen this coming? Everyone? Even dummies like me. This is the most shocking, most tragic, least-surprising thing I've ever seen.
"In 2022, when all of those Republicans who are responsible for what happened today are running for re-election, let's remember them for who they showed themselves to be today: cynical cowards who believe the voters should not choose who governs this country."
Colbert took Republican Sen. Josh Hawley to task for "raising your stupid fist to the mob outside the Capitol." Later, when speaking to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who demanded jail time for those who broke into the Capitol, Colbert took it a step further to say lawmakers like Hawley and Ted Cruz should go to prison.
"Because these are people who actually know better," he told Klobuchar. "That crowd is ignorant. Those people in that Senate chamber are actually the sinners here."
Fallon also didn't mince words, slamming the mob and "people walking around with the flag upside down thinking they're patriotic."
"For today was not patriotism, today was terrorism," the Tonight Show host said.
He then praised Biden for delivering a message of hope today and pivoted to highlight the good that frontline workers and others have done during the pandemic.
"President-elect Biden — President Biden said it best when he said we have to step up, we're at our best when we step up," Fallon added. "But President Biden also said something after his speech that hit me even harder. He said, 'Enough is enough is enough.' And I believe that's what a majority of this country has been saying, has been screaming for a long time now, 'Enough is enough.'"
He continued, "Today was a disgrace. Today was disappointing, but sadly, today was not a surprise. But it's important to remember that this is not who we are. I assure there are more good people than there are bad, and good will prevail."
On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel ripped into Trump, as well as Hawley and Cruz, for challenging the election, despite having no evidence.
"The president of the United States, because he is too angry, too insecure, and too incompetent to deal with the fact that he lost an election — a fair election, an election that was no different than any other election; an election that he lost by 7 millions votes and 70 electors — turns an angry mob against members of Congress and his own vice president, not to mention endangering the Capitol Police, those blue lives he claims matter so much to him," he said.
"The police were very laid-back compared to the Black Lives Matter protests. Some were seen taking selfies with the criminals, others seemed to welcome them through the gates. It was a terrible day in the history of this country," Kimmel continued. "Our president and the scumbags that kept this 'stolen-election' charade going — and that's you Josh Hawley, that's you Ted Cruz — either intentionally or just wildly irresponsibly lit these fires to start a war just to distract us from the fact that Donald Trump lost the election."
In summary, Kimmel said, "These people are not Americans. There is no 'We the people.' There's 'Me the people.'"
James Corden, calling Wednesday's events a day that "will go down as a dark one in the long history of America," criticized Trump for stoking violence. As an outsider, the Englishman said he and many others from around the world saw a different America than the "beacon of light" they believed the country was when they were growing up. Still, Corden said he had hope for the U.S. he once knew, given that Biden, Kamala Harris, and the Democratic senators from Georgia will be sworn in.
"And in two weeks, on those same steps where that mob fought and pushed past the police, the people who encouraged and instigated that violence — Donald Trump, his children, Rudy Giuliani — they're all going to need a tourist pass to get in because they've lost the presidency, they've lost the House, and now they've lost the Senate," Corden said.
"Today was their last dance at the worst party any of us have ever been to. So if you can, have hope," he added. "You've seen in these past few weeks in America that voting counts. Change is coming, science is real, vaccines are on the way. I really do believe that there are better times ahead."
On Late Night, Seth Meyers urged for Trump's immediate removal.
"What we saw today was a violent insurgency in an attempt to overthrow the legitimately elected government of the United States," Meyers said Wednesday night. "And it was incited, directed, and encouraged by the president, Donald Trump, and more than a few members of the Republican Party and right-wing media.
"The only way our democracy is going to survive this harrowing moment is if he's immediately removed from office by either the cabinet or the Congress and prosecuted," Meyers continued. "Anything less is tacit permission to continue to use his office and his influence after he leaves office to foment sedition and dismantle democracy."