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FILE PHOTO: The marquee for "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" is seen on the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 21, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo


NEW YORK (Reuters) - The late-night television show host Stephen Colbert unapologetically responded to criticism of a crude joke he made about U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that prompted calls for the comedian to be fired.

Colbert, host of "The Late Show" on CBS, said on Wednesday he did "not regret" making an oral sex joke on Monday night about Trump and Putin during a scathing diatribe against the U.S. president.

"Folks, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset with Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine," said Colbert, 52, referring to an earlier comment Trump made to CBS "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson about his show.

"At the end of that monologue, I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that," he added, the audience breaking out in applause.

The bleeped joke triggered a #FireColbert trending Twitter hashtag, with Trump supporters pleading for a boycott of CBS Corp advertisers, some people accusing Colbert of being homophobic, others accusing left-wingers of hypocrisy, and still more defending the comedian.

“I believe he can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight,” Colbert said. "While I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be."

(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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