Over the weekend, late-night comedian Stephen Colbert appeared on a stage far from his own. Colbert visited a Russian late-night talk show, where he told the audience that he was considering a presidential run in 2020. His comments seemed to satirically reference the ongoing speculation surrounding Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign’s possible connection.
I am considering a run for president in 2020 and I thought it would be better to cut out the middleman and just tell the Russians myself. ... If anyone would like to work on my campaign in an unofficial capacity, just let me know.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the Late Show host stopped by Evening Urgant, an American-style late-night talk show hosted by Ivan Urgant. Toasting the people of Russia with a shot of vodka, Colbert reportedly joked, “I don’t understand why no members of the Trump administration can remember meeting you.” Colbert and Urgant played a Russian-roulette-style drinking game with vodka shots.
For his part, Urgant also seemed to poke fun at his country’s alleged involvement in the most recent American presidential election. Taking a shot of vodka, Urgant toasted the United States, “which invented the internet, thanks to which we are able to influence the presidential election.”
Colbert has joked about the Trump administration’s alleged connections to Russia before. In fact, earlier last week, he tweeted an implication that President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a close relationship. “Trump said on Twitter that he took orders from Rod Rosenstein,” Colbert tweeted. “Must have been hard for Putin to learn about their breakup in a tweet.” Colbert seemed to be referencing a tweet from Trump in which the president claimed he was being investigated by the Justice Department for firing former FBI Director James Comey at the recommendation of the Justice Department’s Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Like so much of his public commentary, Colbert’s mention of a 2020 presidential campaign may have been a joke. If the comedian were to run, though, it wouldn’t be his first go-around. Colbert ran for president in 2008, while he hosted his eponymous show, The Colbert Report, on Comedy Central. Although the presidential campaign was born out of an announcement he made on his satirical show, Colbert actually did file an application to appear on South Carolina’s ballot. (The comedian hails from South Carolina originally.) Unfortunately for fans, Colbert’s application was rejected, and his presidential campaign came to an abrupt end.
Colbert may not make it onto a ballot in 2020, but his appearance on a Russian late-night television show seemed more about the past and present than the future. After President Trump controversially fired Comey from his spot at the FBI earlier this year, the president was reportedly placed under investigation for his campaign’s alleged connection to Russia. Trump’s legal team said last week that the president is not under investigation, but the president’s tweets and news reports from outlets such as The Washington Post and CNN say otherwise. Colbert’s trip to Russia put him on the front lines of the debate.