Leading up to “The Late Show” on Monday night, Stephen Colbert planned to deliver a monologue packed with jokes about trade tariffs, much as fellow comedian Trevor Noah did.
“But we’re not talking about trade tariffs tonight. That’s not where we’re going,” Colbert said. “Because right before we taped this show, the entire news cycle jumped on the bus to crazy town,” Colbert said.
Throughout the afternoon, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg took the media on a wild ride, calling The Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN and other networks for increasingly strange interviews. A defiant Nunberg said that he had been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign but that he would refuse to testify.
And Colbert loved every minute of it.
The comedian spent the majority of his 11-minute monologue playing clip after clip of Nunberg’s media blitz, hurling one-liners after each one.
“Nunberg took over cable news like a car chase,” Colbert said.
“I believe at 5 he called in to HGTV to incriminate himself on ‘Flip or Flop,’ ” he said of the reality television series. “I’m pretty sure after Mueller gets through with him, it’s going to be flip,” he said, referring to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Colbert played a clip from Nunberg’s interview with MSNBC’s Katy Tur, in which Nunberg insisted that he is “not going to produce them every email I had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone from November 1 of 2015.”
“Whoa, what happened on November 1? That is weirdly specific,” Colbert said, comparing Nunberg to a guilt-ridden man trying to evade a police officer.
“Officer, I’m a busy man, I don’t have time to walk you out to the third storage drain north of my barn,” Colbert quipped. “I definitely did not dump a body in there between the hours of 4 and 6 last night.”
Nunberg also told Tur that his attorney was about to “dump” him, to which Colbert fired back: “Sam, I think your dentist is going to dump you right now.”
Colbert quoted Nunberg’s interview with CNN, during which he insisted that he would not communicate with former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, because “Carter Page is a scumbag.”
“As opposed to communicating with Don Jr., who is a much classier scum-briefcase,” Colbert quipped about President Trump’s son.
Colbert dedicated the most jokes to Nunberg’s interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. When Tapper asked Nunberg if he was willing to go to jail for refusing to cooperate with Mueller, the former Trump aide responded, after a long pause, “I’m not cooperating. Arrest me.”
“You know Mueller can arrest you, right? That’s like saying ‘eat me’ to Hannibal Lecter,” Colbert said, referring to the cannibalistic serial killer in “Silence of the Lambs.” “It doesn’t work out well. It doesn’t have a happy ending for you. He’s just going to marinate you.”
At one point, Tapper asked Nunberg if he thought the president knew about the meeting Donald Trump Jr. set up at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had promised compromising information about Donald Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Nunberg insisted that the president did.
“He talked about it a week before. … I don’t know why he went around trying to hide it.”
To which Colbert responded with a rare hats-off to the president.
“Unlike you, some people try not to get arrested,” Colbert said to Nunberg. “And you’ve got to give that one to Trump.”
Colbert gave Nunberg a little bit of advice: Give Mueller your emails, or just hand over your password and “ask if you can go to one of the nice jails that has tennis.”
The comedian also pointed out a quote from Nunberg to The Washington Post, in which he argued that Trump “won this election on his own. … And there is nobody who hates him more than me.”
“I don’t know about that,” Colbert responded. “Have you met Melania?”
Colbert didn’t hold back from laughing at his own jokes, seemingly in disbelief about Nunberg’s interviews. “This guy is like a Snickers bar; the peanuts just keep coming.”
His monologue was recorded before more twists in the Nunberg saga unfolded. In the evening, CNN’s Erin Burnett, on live television, would tell Nunberg that she could smell alcohol on his breath. And by nightfall, Nunberg would backtrack on his earlier comments, telling reporters that he would probably cooperate with Mueller after all.
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