The first official day of Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial stretched deep into the night and marked “a pivotal day in the history of the republic”, said Stephen Colbert on the Late Show, for “soon, we will find out if breaking the law is illegal”.
“So far, I don’t like the odds,” he noted. That’s perhaps because Tuesday’s activity involved voting on trial rules proposed by the Senate majority leader and “scrotum of the opera” Mitch McConnell, whose proposal did not admit any new evidence or allowed for witnesses to be called. “No evidence, no witnesses, just 100 old people stuck in a room together – this isn’t a trial,” said Colbert. “It’s the 4 o’clock dinner rush at Denny’s.”
Colbert pointed to a new CNN poll which found 69% of Americans think witnesses should be called at the trial. “That’s a two-thirds majority,” he said. “But then again, if we did what the majority of Americans want, Hillary would be president and we’d have Mallomars all year round.”
Colbert also praised Congressman Adam Schiff, who represented the House impeachment team in Tuesday’s proceedings on the floor, and called BS on McConnell’s claim of holding a fair trial with precedent in the Clinton impeachment. “Who knows if his argument is going to make any difference in the long run but it just feels good for someone to stand up and name the lie we can all plainly see,” said Colbert. “It’s like the little boy yelling, ‘The emperor has no clothes! Oh God, make him put clothes back on, my eyes!”
Trump’s defense team, meanwhile, attempted to distract from and drown out the task at hand. Colbert took particular issue with lawyer Pat Cipollone, who argued that if he went to any courthouse in the country and said he needed more time to gather evidence, he’d “get thrown out in two seconds”.
“No, you wouldn’t,” Colbert countered. “It’s called discovery – courts allow it all the time.”
In Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel hosted his 3,000th show on the first night of the Senate impeachment trial. McConnell and Senate Republicans keep saying that they’re following the template established by the Clinton trial two decades ago, “even though this trial is very different”, said Kimmel. “Bill Clinton had sex with one person; Donald Trump screwed a whole country.”
Some Trump team members have gone as far as to encourage forgetting the past altogether: “What happened in the past, we should just ignore,” Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said. “Right … OJ is at home going, I agree with that,” Kimmel retorted.
Overall, Kimmel said, it’s clear that “Trump’s defense team isn’t even denying that he did what he’s accused of, they just say it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment, which is like Jeffery Dahmer arguing it didn’t rise to the level of cannibalism.
“They know he’s guilty. The fact that Donald Trump did this is as clear as Donald Jr’s head. That’s why they don’t want you to see any more evidence. And if you have a problem with that, which you should, no matter what side you’re on, the best thing you can do is vote,” Kimmel said, directing viewers to the national voter registration site. “Use this mockery of our democracy to motivate yourself to vote.”
The impeachment trial is underway, and the Republican-controlled senate is set to decide whether Trump is innocent, or the most innocent man in the history of innocence. pic.twitter.com/qNFYNOYWtE
And on the Daily Show, Trevor Noah assessed the “insane” defense team working for Trump: there’s Ken Starr, the lawyer famous for conducting the investigation that led to Clinton’s impeachment, and Alan Dershowitz, who defended OJ Simpson at his infamous murder trial in 1995. It’s a “perfect” team for Trump, Noah said, “because they have experience with super guilty people and super horny presidents”.
Dershowitz, especially, marks an interesting case because of his stance against Bill Clinton during his impeachment in the 90s, though he’s not one to admit he was ever misguided; he recently said on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show of his stance then versus now, “I wasn’t wrong, I am just far more correct now than I was then.”
“That is one of the most original lines I have ever heard in my life,” Noah laughed. “And that’s a great line for a lawyer, but thank God this guy doesn’t work on a bomb squad … ‘Don’t worry, we’re not going to die, we’re just going to be less alive.’”
Noah was also surprised by the gruelling conditions of the trial – 12-hour sessions stretching past midnight. “That’s cruel for anyone, and especially cruel for this group,” he said. “I mean, these people are usually in bed by Wheel of Fortune. No one’s up here until 2am.”