The lawyer for a porn star just blew the lid off of a very shady shell company set up by Donald Trump's fixer Michael Cohen before the 2016 election, and late-night hosts were practically salivating over the revelations on Wednesday night.
In case you're not keeping up with the developments, Essential Constultants LLC -- the shell corporation Cohen used to pay Stormy Daniels that $130,000 in exchange for silence about her affair with Trump -- accepted funds from a Russian oligarchy and American corporations, including AT&T, totaling $4.4 million. It's all very complicated, and so far legal, but at the very least, all kinds of shady.
Seth Meyers was so enamored with all the juicy details of the story that he had to save it for his "Closer Look" segment while James Corden struggled with the math of all those little payments funneling in and Stephen Colbert was looking to get paid for offering his own "insights into understanding the new administration," as AT&T claimed they were doing to justify their involvement.
"Late Night with Seth Meyers"
During his opening monologue, Meyers joked about AT&T making payments to Essential Consultants LLC. "To thank them, [Michael] Cohen will be using AT&T for his one phone call," he said.
He then took a deeper dive into the story during his "Closer Look" segment where he reeled at all Russian connection. Vekselberg is an oil and metal magnate with ties to Vladimir Putin, and he has sanctions against him by the U.S.
"Now this story involves a Russian oligarch funneling massive sums of money through a secret shell company controlled by the president's lawyer. What doesn't this story have? At this point I'm honestly expecting Robert Mueller to rip off his mask and say, 'Gotcha Donald! It was me the whole time!'" At this he replaced Mueller's head in an image with that of Hillary Clinton.
Also suspicious were the payments from AT&T totaling $200,000 between October 2017 and January 2018. That was right around the time Trump was publicly saying he opposed the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner. "So there's only two possible explanations," Meyers explained. "Either AT&T was trying to secretly influence administration policy by funneling money to a shell company, or AT&T also had an affair with Stormy Daniels."
He wasn't buying their explanation that they paid the shell corporation to better understand the new administration, either. "If you were making secret payments to a shell company owned by the president's fixer, it sounds like you understood the new administration just fine," Meyers said.
Corden was immediately overwhelmed by all the numbers. Each company made incremental smaller payments to reach those totals with Essential Consultants, and that was just the money going in. Then there's at least the outgoing payment to Stormy Daniels.
"This story sounds like a word problem you'd see on a math test," Corden said. "If Michael Cohen received $500,000 from the Russians, but only gave $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, how many years does Michael spend in jail?"
He also took note of Cohen's lawyer's emphasizing that there was nothing illegal about any of the transactions, which is true. "The interesting thing here is that Michael Cohen is such a bad lawyer that even Michael Cohen doesn't use Michael Cohen as a lawyer," Corden joked.
Colbert did a little digging into Vekselberg, where he uncovered that the magnate had spent nearly $1 billion on Faberge Easter Eggs. "Wow, that guy really loves Easter," Colbert marveled. "Now there's no proof that he got any access to Donald Trump, unless..."
At this, Colbert put up a picture from the Easter Egg Roll at the White House with Trump standing next to a giant Easter Bunny. "A-HA! That's who's in there. He snuck in!"
He then took a look at AT&T's explanation for their involvement. "You paid for insights into this administration? He's a horny old racist who likes cheeseburgers more than his children. $200,000 please."
But then he put two and two together, after noting how much pharmaceutical company Novartis paid. "They paid $1.2 million for access to the same administration that just let Michael Wolff sit around writing everything he saw? No wonder drugs cost so much."
He then noted that all of these payments were done in multiple smaller payments "so as not to trigger mandatory federal disclosure requirements. The payments were... what's the word I'm looking for? Bite-sized? Fun? Crime-sized! Just little bits of money at a time."