With the notable exceptions of John Oliver and Samantha Bee, comedian Seth Meyers has emerged as an election-season standout. His Late Night monologues, delivered as part of his must-watch “A Closer Look” segment, are pitched somewhere between Oliver’s righteous indignation and Jon Stewart’s sentimental snark. The day after Election Night, Meyers’s earnest, tear-filled speech about how excited his mother was to potentially see the first female U.S. president, and his message to young girls and women across America—one of whom will be the first female president—instantly became the best celebrity reaction to the shocking result.
On Tuesday night, Meyers devoted his “Closer Look” segment to Donald Trump’s numerous conflicts of interest between his businesses and the future Trump administration—and how the president-elect has managed to divert attention away from the red flags with tweets about the Broadway show Hamilton or speculation surrounding his Cabinet choices.
“Because Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns, we know very little about how his financial dealings might affect his presidency. But Trump has been able to distract from those questions by spurring speculation about his Cabinet picks,” said Meyers. “Every time he hints at a new name, the media runs wild with it.”
Yes, Trump is treating the Cabinet selection process like the reality-TV show he used to host, The Apprentice. And he seems to be having a ball, even supposedly burying the hatchet with ex-hater Mitt Romney in mulling him for secretary of State. As The New York Times reported, “Trump loves the tension and drama of a selection process, and has sought to stoke it… A senior adviser described the meeting, in part, as Mr. Romney simply coming to pay his respects to the president-elect and ‘kiss his ring.’”
Meyers also noted how odd it was that while Trump “has been parading contestants for Cabinet spots in front of the media,” he’s also “been scolding that same media for what he claims is their biased coverage of him.” On Monday, he held an off-the-record meeting with TV news anchors and media executives in which he reportedly launched an unhinged attack on the journalists—even complained to NBC News President Deborah Turness that “…the network won’t run a nice picture of him, instead choosing ‘this picture of me,’ as he made a face with a double chin.”
Never mind how TV news anchors and TV executives shouldn’t be agreeing to off-the-record meetings with the president-elect, because what good does that serve the public?
“But as much as Trump may try to bully the media, we need an aggressive, free press to try to hold him accountable—specifically on his promises to separate his business empire from his administration,” said Meyers. “During his campaign, for example, he claimed that if he won the presidency, he would have nothing to do with his business”—with Meyers cutting to the Jan. 14 GOP debate, where Trump said, “If I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts. I want to use that same—up here, whatever it may be [pointing to his head]—to make America rich again, and to make America great again.”
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. “Trump doesn’t seem to be taking any steps so far from separating his business from his government work. For example, we told you yesterday how Trump’s new hotel in Washington, D.C. was pitching itself to foreign diplomats as a place to stay while those diplomats are in town doing business with Trump’s government,” said Meyers. “Then, there was also Trump’s meeting with Indian business partners while he was supposed to be running his transition. And then there was the fact that Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who Trump said would run his business while he governs, sat in with him on an official meeting with the prime minister of Japan.”
Trump, whose 150 companies do business in 25 countries, was gifted a particularly pricey golf club from Japanese PM Shinzo Abe: a gold-plated Honma Beres driver worth $4,000.
“A bullying authoritarian who meets in secret with foreign leaders who receives gifts of gold? We’re probably a month away from Trump growing out a Saddam Hussein mustache,” joked Meyers. (Editor’s Note: They do have similar taste in chairs.)
Then there was the matter of Trump’s meeting with Brexit mouthpiece Nigel Farage wherein he reportedly asked the British politician to oppose the construction of wind farms near his big Scottish golf course—which has already caused plenty of problems—as well as his call with the Argentinian president in which he reportedly pushed for a stalled Trump Tower project in downtown Buenos Aires. Ivanka listened in on that call, too.
“I’m starting to think that we might end up with a woman president after all,” joked Meyers. “Now, Trump could have responded to these concerns by pledging to liquidate his holdings and put his assets in a legitimately blind trust. Instead, Donald Trump, who spent months accusing Hillary Clinton of pay-to-play politics and corruption, tweeted this response last night”:
“Yeah, the crooked media has some kind of crooked hard-on for the crooked Constitution,” added Meyers. “Now, there aren’t any laws preventing the president from running a business, but legal experts are warning that if Trump receives foreign money through his hotels or any other part of his company while he’s president, not only could that be unethical, it could be a violation of a clause in the Constitution that prohibits public officials from accepting gifts from foreign powers”—specifically the Emoluments Clause and the Impeachment Clause, both of which condemn “bribery” from a foreign government.
Crooked Hillary, eh?