Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert wring laughs from this week’s second-most recent constitutional crisis

Late Night With Seth Meyers (Screenshot: NBC)

So it turns out Donald Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller back in June. You know, Robert Mueller, the guy in charge of investigating Donald Trump both for collusion with Russia in order to win the presidential election and for obstructing justice—with regard to that investigation about collusion with Russia. Yeah, that guy, whose position was apparently only spared when White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit when Trump ordered it, a shockingly rare stand on behalf of governmental norms and the Constitution from someone in the Trump administration. The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert marveled at this surprising position as “an anemic firefly of a ricochet of a shadow of a scruple.” So that’s nice.

Sure, it would be nicer for fans of American democracy if, on Monday (after Colbert and his late-night cohorts had already taped their shows), FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe weren’t forced out of his position by Trump (allegedly). It’s yet another signal that Trump and his Republican enablers are working up the propaganda-fueled courage to follow through and fire Mueller. Still, seeing blaring state media organ Fox News (in the form of chief Fox megaphone Sean Hannity) have to eat it live on air when even it couldn’t deny the evidence of Mueller’s planned termination was restorative. Watching the eyes-averted Hannity rush through his retraction and then command his viewers to look at cool footage of a violent police chase is to understand Sideshow Bob’s mockery of the public’s susceptibility to “big noises and shiny things.”

But McCabe’s ouster and the GOP’s hand-wave thereof is tomorrow’s constitutional crisis, right? So Colbert and Seth Meyers spent their Monday openers pointing out how Donald Trump is sure acting like a berserk would-be dictator with a sweaty need to cover up his shit like a cat in a soiled litter box. Colbert ridiculed Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ pooh-poohing of that whole “trying to fire the person in charge of investigating your alleged treason” thing. Colbert compared Collins’ blasé rationalizations for Trump to someone smilingly excusing a lunatic who’d jumped into a panda enclosure yelling, “I just wanna taste it!” by noting that at least someone managed to wrestle the machete out of his hands just in time.


Over on Late Night, Meyers similarly took apart Republicans’ clear intent to abet this blundering authoritarianism by offering up a choice of one of two options for Trump’s behavior toward those investigating him. One: He’s guilty of betraying everything this country purports to stand for in pursuit of personal gain. Two: [After a really long and comprehensive, if partial, list of all the various firings, on-air confessions, threats, and smear campaigns Trump has undertaken to undermine the Russia investigation]: “He’s… innocent?”

Well, with McCabe’s seemingly forced resignation, the transparently hypocritical actions of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to further undermine the Trump-Russia investigation, and the fact that Trump has officially defied Congress’ order to place sanctions on Russia all dropping later on Monday, here’s hoping tomorrow’s “constitutional crisis/Republican complicity in same” late night jokes are just as funny. Of course, Tuesday’s also the night of Trump’s first State Of The Union speech, so we may be six deep in crises by then. Stay tuned.

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About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.