It's official: impeachment season is over. Donald Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Feb. 5 with an almost completely partisan vote on both articles of impeachment from the House of Representatives. And of course, the hosts of late night TV had a lot to say about the development.
For those who've been practicing self care and tuning out of the hectic news cycle, every Senate Democrat united in the vote to remove Trump from office on Wednesday, but their 47 members weren't enough to satisfy the two-thirds majority needed for the measure to succeed. However, there was something of a moral victory for the left when Republican Senator Mitt Romney broke ranks with his party to vote "yes" on the first article, the allegation of abuse of power. His defection and accompanying speech was a surprise to pundits across the political spectrum.
Throughout the night on Wednesday, late-night hosts were equal parts outraged and petrified in their reactions to the news of Trump's acquittal, offering bitter takes on what the result may mean for Trump's presidential acts and the country as a whole. At the same time, the hosts were almost universally impressed with what Utah Senator Mitt Romney had to say about his rare vote to convict Trump.
Here's a look at all of the late-night hosts' best reactions to Trump's impeachment acquittal.
Samantha Bee was not one bit impressed with GOP Senators Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins, who each voted to acquit Trump, despite publicly conceding that his conduct was inappropriate when he withheld foreign aid from Ukraine to pressure the country into investigating Joe Biden.
"Trump's legal team may not believe abusing your power is an abuse of power, but the spineless betas in Congress do and don't care," she said before rolling through clips of an Alexander interview supporting his vote. "At least pretend to care!"
Bee was more worried, though, about what effect this decision will have on Trump, who, based on several clips she showed, already believes that Article II gives him extremely broad executive powers.
"Trump's acquittal is bad for many reasons. For one, it would've been fun seeing [Mike] Pence try to figure out if he wants to call his wife First Lady Mother or First Mother Lady, but more importantly, now that his executive overreach has been sanctioned by the Senate, Trump is free to basically do anything. Trump is, in effect, a king," Bee said. "With a Supreme Court loaded with conservatives and a totally ineffective Senate, nobody is left to check his power. Even Senators who acknowledged that what Trump did was wrong were unwilling to do anything about it. By voting to acquit Donald Trump, the Senate has set a devastating precedent. Future Presidents can solicit foreign interference in an election, they can investigate private citizens. There are no rules. That's not America, that is Outback Steakhouse."
Trevor Noah, meanwhile, thought it was "no big surprise" that Trump was acquitted and that "everyone knew where this was going." However, he was particularly impressed by Romney's vote.
"With the outcome never in doubt, the only real drama was whether any Republicans would dare vote against Donald Trump. And it turns out, there was one man with binders full of courage," he joked. "That is shocking. Who would've thought that the most badass Republican in the Senate would end up being a Mormon dude named Mitt? ... I've gotta say Mitt, you proved everyone wrong. The haters said you were as radical as a glass of skim milk, but they were wrong Mitt. You're whole milk, my man."
However, Noah still echoed a similar fear about Trump being emboldened after the decision, saying, "So, basically, thanks to Senate Republicans, Trump is now free. He can just run through laws like he's got that Super Mario invincibility star. That's what he can do. He's invincible. Except Trump is now more powerful than Mario because in this case, he turtles are on his side."
Stephen Colbert had the most emotional response to Mitt Romney's vote, particularly because of his own religious holdings and the fact that the Senator said it was his belief in his oath and God that informed that decision.
"Mitt knows this isn't going to make him any friends in the Republican party ... Romney's willing to put up with whatever the blowback from this decision is. His faith compels him to vote for impeachment. And it makes sense because the Old Testament does say you should worship God and not golden cows," Colbert joked.
Colbert then went on to recount his own personal history of making fun of Romney, particularly during his 2012 presidential run, before praising Romney's words. "I do want to say that was an inspiring speech because hearing Mitt Romney take his oath to God seriously was like finding water in the desert. Because we know Republicans are lying when they say that Trump didn't do anything wrong or that maybe he did, but he shouldn't be removed. Every person who leaves the White House and writes a book about it or every journalist who gets to peek behind the curtain, like the two we had last night, they all tell us the Republicans privately are horrified by Donald Trump and want something, someone to do something to stop him but they don't have the balls to say that out loud when it matters," Colbert said.
"Please join me in thanking Mitt Romney for being honest, for not lying to us or to himself, for serving the Constitution rather than that monstrous child in the White House," he added near the end of his opening monologue.
Jimmy Fallon continued the two-part theme that acquittal would mean an unrestrained Trump and that Romney's move was still meaningful during his show on Wednesday.
"Trump was acquitted today and then he called up Ukraine and said, 'Now, were we?'" Fallon said in his daily news recap. "But the big news today was that Republican Senator Mitt Romney broke with his party and voted to convict Trump. Romney's decision took a lot of grit, nerve, and guts. Incidentally, grit, nerve, and guts are the names of some of Mitt Romney's sons."
Fallon then took note of the historic significance of Romney's vote, saying, "So, Romney became the first U.S. Senator in history to vote to remove the President of his own party. Of course, the other time Romney made history was when he became the first man to iron his tuxedo while wearing it."
"Our long national nightmare just not even longer and more nightmarish," Jimmy Kimmel said to open his show, continuing the cynical tone of the evening.
Like his colleagues, Kimmel also had something to say about Romney's vote. "In five minutes, Romney laid waste to almost every argument Trump's defenders made. He said Trump abused his power, that what he did was clearly impeachable. He said history will judge those who stand with the president, and then he chugged a quart of milk and crushed the empty carton and threw it to the ground. He's out of control, but good for Mitt Romney," Kimmel said in jest.
He then rolled a tape of Senator Susan Collins' CBS News interview in which she supported her "no" vote by saying she "believe[s] the President has learned from this case." Kimmel responded by saying, "Hahahaha, you do? What he's learned is, 'I will do whatever I want, and you will eat it.'"
Kimmel continued to harp on the fact that Trump hasn't and won't learn his lesson, as Collins indicated, saying, "Tomorrow, he'll probably call China to see if he can give Bernie [Sanders] the Coronavirus. He doesn't learn. And this idea the Democrats keep pounding that Republicans care how they'll be judged in the history books, if Trump gets another four years, there won't be any more history books. There's nothing to worry [about]. 50 years now, textbooks in Florida will show Donald Trump, Jesus, and the Space Force winning a war against Mexican dinosaurs. That's what we have in our future." How grim.
Seth Meyers' take on the subject during his "A Closer Look" segment was perhaps the most scathing of all. The host repeatedly pointed out that Donald Trump did not win the popular vote and that, despite their current power, the GOP represents a minority of Americans before slamming the "sham impeachment trial" and Trump's State of the Union address.
"Last night an impeached President who lost the popular vote gave a State of the Union address in which he demonized immigrants and lied repeatedly," Meyers said. "The undying devotion most Republicans have pledged to a shameless corrupt liar was on full display today when they acquitted him after a sham impeachment trial in which they ignored the evidence and refused to hear from witnesses. The Senate Republican caucus, again representing a minority of Americans, acquitted a President who lost the popular vote in the 2016 election and tried to cheat in the 2020 election. You can't call that democracy."
Regarding Romney's speech, Meyers added, "It's shocking just to hear a Republican talk about living with their conscience. Most Republicans filed for divorce from their consciences years ago. That's why Mitch McConnell's always smiling like that."
Meyers concluded by saying that between the much-maligned Democratic caucus in Iowa, the State of the Union Address, and Trump's acquittal, "This week has showcased in vivid terms the crisis of democracy we're facing. ... Republicans are devoted to Trump above all else. And they're willing to flush both our democracy and our Constitution down multiple [toilets]."
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee airs on Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30c on TBS. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs weeknights at 11/10c on Comedy Central. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on CBS. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on NBC. Jimmy Kimmel Live airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on ABC. Late Night with Seth Meyers airs weeknights at 12:35/11:35c on NBC.