On Wednesday’s Late Show, Stephen Colbert unpacked significant developments in the impeachment of Donald Trump: the submission of formal articles to the Senate. “So that’s it – the die is cast, Rubicon crossed, toothpaste de-tubed,” Colbert said.
Also on Wednesday, the House intelligence committee released what Vanity Fair called a “trove of ridiculously incriminating impeachment evidence” related to Trump’s effort to get information on Joe Biden from Ukraine. “That’s pretty bad, because when it comes to Trump crime, the scale goes: incriminating, very incriminating, ridiculously incriminating, and Rudy on Merlot,” joked Colbert.
Some of the most damning evidence includes: handwritten to-do lists by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani indicted last year on corruption charges, to “get Zelansky [sic] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated” and “do my ‘magic’ and cut deal;” texts in which Giuliani confirms Trump’s awareness of the plan; and a letter from Giuliani to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, requesting a meeting in Giuliani’s “capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent”.
“Yes, two words not often associated with President Donald Trump: knowledge and consent,” Colbert said. He concluded that based on the evidence, “Trump knew and approved of what Giuliani was doing.”
On Late Night, Seth Meyers also parsed through the “bombshell new documents” released by the House intelligence committee, including a letter in which Giuliani repeatedly assured Zelenskiy that his arrangement with Trump – representing him on a personal level, not as president of the United States – was not shady. “When you have to start your letter by explaining what you’re doing is not suspicious, that is definitely suspicious,” Meyers said. “Like when you text a weed dealer for the first time and say: ‘I am writing to obtain marijuana for medical purposes, and not because my parents are out of town.’”
Still, Meyers noted, it was one of the least shocking reveals from the documents, which included “ominous, chilling and bizarre”, texts between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Connecticut-based Trump supporter and former congressional candidate.
In text messages, Hyde claimed to be working with a private security team in Ukraine to monitor Yovanovitch’s movements and communications and said his guys were “willing to help if we/you would like a price”.
The ominous text reveals how “these guys are a lot dumber than the criminals on TV,” Meyers said. “Those criminals are always using burner phones or switching cars, meeting in back alleys; in real life, these guys are texting each other and putting up posters on telephone poles that say, ‘Looking for thugs to do crimes – this is for Trump as a citizen, not as president, he is my friend, here is a picture of us!’”
On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee addressed this week’s Democratic debate – specifically, the much-hyped “feud” between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders over a private conversation in 2018 in which Sanders allegedly said he didn’t believe a woman could be elected president in 2020. CNN debate moderators seemed, according to Bee, to use the storyline to their advantage. “The only way they could be trying harder to get them to fight is if they personally oiled up these senior citizens and threw them into the octagon,” Bee said.
Bee found the whole drama exhausting: “That’s what’s dominated our national discourse for 36 hours? Two great candidates who are a little sad and disappointed in each other over a misunderstanding? Also, anyone who has said that America couldn’t elect a woman president isn’t alone – I myself might have shouted it into a bottle of wine or 10.”
Bee concluded with a call to stay focused on the bigger picture: “This was the last debate before the Iowa caucus, and if we’re having fights, they should be about how to protect reproductive rights, and how to fight gun violence and how Biden looks like he got run through the Irishman de-aging machine. But I promise you I will vote for that Uncanny Valley resident if he’s the nominee because there is only one wrong choice this November.”
And on the Daily Show, Trevor Noah mocked the pomp and circumstance of the House’s literal march across the Capitol to hand-deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate. “So … we’re all just going to pretend nobody invented email?” Noah joked. “It’s 2020, just send it as a PDF.”
Noah also expressed disbelief over the blatancy of Parnas’s notes. “They wrote down the plot of their crime and then kept it? That is a literal paper trail – why would you do that?
“Only Donald Trump would hire henchmen who are also into scrapbooking. A bunch of criminal Martha Stewarts, also known as: Martha Stewarts.”
Meanwhile, he continued, it’s been a notable week for snubs of diverse candidates: the Oscars announced overwhelmingly white and male nominees, and the African American senator Cory Booker ended his presidential run. “You have to admit: between the Oscars and [Booker], this is definitely not a great week for liberals in America,” Noah said. “Think about it – Democrats in Hollywood are always talking about how important diversity is, but they’re the ones who always end up celebrating a bunch of white people. This is almost like finding out Greta Thunberg secretly hunts polar bears in her race car.”