After President Donald Trump defied decades of political convention by declining to release his tax returns during his campaign, Rachel Maddow broke the internet this week when she revealed Trump's 2005 tax returns during her MSNBC show.
"I hold in my hand something very significant", Colbert said, dressed in Maddow's signature blazer in front of a graphic that resembled the backdrop used on Maddow's show. "We believe that this is the first time any joke connected with Donald Trump has been released".
Whenever Colbert began to introduce the joke "Why did the chicken cross the road?" he cut himself off and went off on tangents.
"This is a super interesting first window into his finances, and the question of his finances is a legitimate scandal", she said.
Later, he asked, "OK, what are roads?"
The joke was: "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
He paused for a few seconds before saying, "The answer right after the break".
Maddow reported Tuesday about a two-page summary of Trump's taxes from 2005, which revealed the president earned $153 million and paid $36.5 million in income taxes that year.
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"Because I have information about the president doesn't mean that it's necessarily a scandal", she said.
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon had the MSNBC presenter on his show for a valedictory lap, a hint that relations may not be so frosty between the network and its cable news cousin.
That's a higher bill than some expected, especially given the single page of Trump's 1995 state return that surfaced last year, producing speculation that massive losses would have enabled him to have zero federal liability for up to 18 years.
With the White House taking its sweet time responding, Maddow and company had another show prepared just in case it didn't - but in the end, the tax return made the news.
Most of that reportedly came from a tax the president wants to get rid of.
It was neither the holy grail, nor the smoking gun, nor the long-awaited release of all Trump's tax returns with all their potential Russian secrets.
In a statement released Tuesday night, the White House said this report was part of what they called the "dishonest" media's "agenda" and said it simply proved Mr. Trump paid "no more tax than legally required".