Stephen Colbert Calls Out Trump for ‘Taking Bribes’ From China

The ‘Late Show’ host examined Trump’s curious comments about the U.S.-sanctioned Chinese telecom company ZTE.

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

This week, President Trump sent out a tweet that left many in the intelligence community—and beyond—scratching their heads:

The president’s desire to ease U.S. sanctions against ZTE seemed strange given not only his consistent anti-China rhetoric (and “Make America Great Again” motto), but also how, just last month, the Trump administration banned the Chinese telecom giant after “accusing it of violating a deal in which it agreed to pay $1.2 billion for evading U.S. sanctions on North Korea and Iran,” reported CNN.

If that weren’t enough, during a Senate Intelligence hearing in February, six top U.S. intelligence chiefs—including the heads of the CIA, FBI, and NSA—spoke out against ZTE, with FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying, “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.” He added, “That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”

So, before welcoming Deadpool onto the program on Tuesday, The Late Show host Stephen Colbert addressed Trump’s curious about-face.

“I don’t understand why President Trump cares about leaks, because these days he’s not even trying to hide his dirt anymore,” offered Colbert, before reading Trump’s ZTE tweet.

“What? Jobs in China? That’s the exact opposite of everything he has ever said! What’s next, short ties?” added Colbert. “But now it all makes sense, because Trump tweeted out that announcement a mere 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to put a half a billion dollars into an Indonesian project that would personally enrich… any guesses? Donald Trump.”

Yes, AFP broke the news that Trump sent that ZTE-deal tweet just 72 hours after “the developer of a theme park resort outside of Jakarta had signed a deal to receive as much as $500 million in Chinese government loans, as well as another $500 million from Chinese banks… Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort, which includes a golf course and hotels.” Trump, for his part, has claimed to support the easing of sanctions against ZTE because the company outsources many of its parts from America.

“He’s not even trying to be subtle,” said Colbert, before imitating the president. “Meet me outside the parking garage in broad daylight, I’ll be the one shouting, I’m taking bribes over here! It is shocking. It turns out the Trump Organization is getting money from the developer of a theme park resort outside of Jakarta who has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort. Why would you want Trump’s name on your theme park? Is the theme ‘bankruptcy’?”

He continued: “I gotta say, a Trump theme park does open a lot of ride possibilities, including: Splash Mattress, Big Stormy Mountin’ Railroad, The Hall of President, and Mr. Pence’s Mild Ride.”