Late-night hosts on Tuesday discussed Donald Trump’s attempt to walk back his comments in Helsinki, where he sided with Vladimir Putin over American intelligence agencies on the subject of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“We thought yesterday was the craziest day of this ridiculous presidency,” ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel began. “Turns out today made yesterday feel like a visit to historic Gettysburg.” He continued: “The news today is that our president is a liar and not even a good one. President Trump today, in an attempt to explain what the Helsinki was going through his cotton-candy covered head when he stood next to Vladimir Putin, of all people, and took sides with Russia over our own American intelligence agencies, now says it was just a tiny little slip-up, even smaller than his fists.”
Showing video of Trump’s statement on Tuesday, Kimmel replied: “Papa John must be at home right now going, ‘Wait, you can do that?’
“What I want to know is which genius on his team came up with this idea,” the host joked. “I bet it was Melania, she hates him the most.”
On Trump’s typed notes for his meeting on Tuesday, he had scribbled the words “There was no collusion,” spelling collusion incorrectly, with one L.
“This is something he says every 90 seconds,” the host said. “It’s something he wakes up in the middle of the night and shouts. He needed a note to remind himself to say it once again?”
“One day after his disastrous summit with Vladimir Putin, it is starting to dawn on some people Trump may be a bad president,” said Stephen Colbert. “Even Trump officials are embarrassed by his Putin show.”
Colbert was referring to the bipartisan criticism that emerged after Trump’s summit with Putin, which stunned even the president’s staunchest supporters.
Colbert joked: “Look, I was with him with the Nazis and imprisoning children, but siding with the Russians? They killed Apollo Creed.
“Right after the summit Trump thought he did great until he got on Air Force One,” Colbert said, citing an article in the New York Times, “and his mood grew foul as the breadth of the critical reaction became clear.”
Colbert then explained that, after the summit, “Trump went into emergency spin mode,” calling a meeting of Republican leaders at the White House “to watch his induction into the Lying Hall of Fame”.
At the meeting, Trump talked about the Nato summit and said, “When I left, everybody was thrilled.”
“That is not a lie,” Colbert quipped.
The host then showed additional footage of the meeting, where Trump said he had “full faith” in US intelligence agencies, at which point the lights in the room mysteriously turned off.
Trump then changed his tune regarding his most talked-about comment in Helsinki, when he said “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia, in reference to 2016 election meddling. “There is need for some clarification,” said the president. “The sentence should have been I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t have been Russia.
“So of all the terrible words he said in that press conference,” Colbert asked, “you’re only taking back one of them?”
Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah also addressed Trump’s reversal.
“After President Trump threw America under the Russian bus, everyone stateside lost their shit,” Noah said, before showing news clips that described the summit in Helsinki “as disgraceful”, “disgusting” and a “giant middle finger from President Trump to his own country”.
“Look, President Trump is no stranger to criticism,” the host added. “But it’s not often that even his closest allies slam his actions. Even Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House and swollen Mike Pence, tweeted that this was the most serious mistake of Trump’s presidency and that he must clarify what he meant.
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Guys, Trump actually said Mexicans were THERAPISTS. It all makes sense now! pic.twitter.com/PIec0H8q1Z
July 18, 2018
“So, just like after Trump praised the Charlottesville Nazis, today the president was forced to come out and pretend to believe something different than what he said,” Noah said, going on to show clips from Trump’s meeting with House Republicans.
At one point, Trump said he believed American intelligence agencies but said meddling in the election could be attributable to “other people” as well. “All Trump had to say was that he believes Russia meddled in the election, full stop,” Noah said. “But he can’t help himself.”
Noah went on: “How do you convince people that one flight changed your mind completely? The answer is: not like this.”
In the clip in question, Trump claimed he meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of would. “That makes sense. I actually believe Trump on this,” Noah said, before mocking the president’s logic-defying reversal. “Sorry, what I meant to say was, get the fuck outta here, man.”