On Friday, Stephen Colbert appeared on a Russian talk show to announce he was mulling a 2020 run. "If anyone would like to work on my campaign in an unofficial capacity, please just let me know," he said. Back in the states, however, Colbert clarified his comments on running for president on Monday's Late Show With Stephen Colbert, joking that he was "not going to ask the Russians" to help his campaign. "I'd have my son-in-law ask them," he said in jest to the roaring crowd.
The comedian was filming Late Show episodes in Russia last week, and on Friday appeared on Evening Urgant, a late-night talk show hosted by Ivan Urgant. There, he reportedly joked about running for president.
Colbert's joke about his having his "son-in-law ask [the Russians]" on Monday is likely referring to the ongoing federal investigation into potential links between the Trump 2016 campaign and the Russian government. One aspect of the investigation, led by the Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller, is exploring is whether or not Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, colluded with the Russian government — in particular, Mueller is probing meetings Kushner had with the Russian ambassador and a Russian banker. (The New York Times reported on Monday that Kushner had recently hired Abbe D. Lowell, a well-regarded trial lawyer.)
According to another lawyer Kushner has retained, he sought out a new attorney since special investigator Mueller had worked at the same firm, WilmerHale, prior to rejoining the government for the Russia probe.
"When Bob Mueller left WilmerHale to become special counsel and three of our colleagues joined him, we asked Mr. Kushner to get independent legal advice on whether to continue with us as his counsel," attorney Jamie Gorelick said in a statement. "He engaged Abbe Lowell to advise him and then decided to add Mr. Lowell to the team representing him in the various inquiries into the Russia matter."
Kushner's initially undisclosed contact with prominent Russians is just one facet of the multi-pronged investigation into the Trump team's alleged ties to the Russian authorities. The CIA reportedly captured intelligence that Russian officials were working to help Trump's campaign, but the president and the administration have vehemently denied collusion with the Russian government. The Russian government has also said it did not interfere with election results.
Great reporting by WaPo on Obama WH response to Russia hacks, regretting not doing more -- > https://t.co/iiuMo3aRu0— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 23, 2017
Colbert has often done humorous takes on the Russia investigation. After The Intercept obtained documents that showed the Russians may have tampered with the election, for example, Colbert said: "I'm a little rusty on my Constitution, but I guess that means new election?" He even went so far as to make a sex-related joke about Putin and Trump last month that had Trump and his supporters calling for Colbert to be sacked by CBS.
As for whether or not Stephen Colbert will indeed run, it remains unclear. He did try to run in South Carolina as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2007, but state Democratic officials wouldn't allow him to be on the ballot. This time, however, now that he's transitioned from Comedy Central to a major television network, perhaps his bid will be taken seriously.
The U.S. may already have an NBC star in the Oval Office, but given Colbert's popularity, he probably wouldn't need help from Russian officials.