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Stephen Colbert throws out monologue, gets visibly choked up over Trump trying to 'poison American democracy'

Entertainment Weekly logo Entertainment Weekly 11/6/2020 Nick Romano

Stephen Colbert knew that Donald Trump "might try some shenanigans" if he were to lose the election. And it turns out, he was right. What Colbert "didn't know is that it would hurt so much."

The host of A Late Show came close to tears on his Thursday night episode, after scrapping his originally planned monologue to address Trump's attempt to "poison American democracy" with a speech from the White House briefing room. "That's why I'm not sitting down yet, I just don't feel like it yet," Colbert began. "It's also why I'm dressed for a funeral because Donald Trump tried really hard to kill something tonight."

Trump repeatedly lied to his constituents heading into Election Day, falsely claiming that mail-in ballots would be illegal and an attempt to steal the election away from him. The president doubled down on those claims in his briefing room appearance. "If you count the legal votes, I easily win," he said. "If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us." Trump then further bent reality in suggesting that election officials counting ballots in Pennsylvania — a state in which he is currently trailing Joe Biden in the polls by a low margin— are up to no good. "They don't want anybody watching them as they count the ballots, and I can't imagine why," he said.

Stephen Colbert et al. standing in front of a table: Colbert, close to tears, says he didn't know Trump's election lies "would hurt so much." © Scott Kowalchyk/CBS Colbert, close to tears, says he didn't know Trump's election lies "would hurt so much."

"I didn't expect this to break my heart," Colbert said in response. "For him to cast a dark shadow on our most sacred right, from the briefing room in the White House — our house, not his — that is devastating. This is heartbreaking for the same reason that I didn't want him to get COVID, certainly wanted him to survive, because he is the President of the United States. That office means something, and that office should have some shred of decency."

Everything Trump has done "is now in some way presidential behavior," Colbert remarked, "unless every single person rejects what he just did." He continued, "And that means, for all the predictable behavior of the last few days and the last four years, right now something unpredictable needs to happen. Republicans have to speak up. All of them. Because for evil to succeed, all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing. So, say something right now, Republicans."

Turning his attention to the GOP, Colbert said it's in their "best interest" to "get off the Trump train." "You only survived this up until now because a lot of voters didn’t want to believe everything that was obvious to so many of us: that Donald Trump is a fascist,” the host added. “And when it comes to democracy versus fascism, there are not fine people on both sides. So you need to choose: Donald Trump or the American people?”

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