Home News Federal prosecutors drop charges against Colbert team members arrested at Capitol

Federal prosecutors drop charges against Colbert team members arrested at Capitol

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Federal prosecutors have declined to prosecute members of a production team associated with Stephen Colbert’s late-night comedy show who were arrested last month on Capitol Hill.

A production team involved with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which airs on CBS, had been charged with unlawful entry and had a court date set for this week after being arrested by Capitol Police while filming segments for cigar-smoking puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog handled by comedian Robert Smigel.

CBS acknowledged last month that a production team involved in filming segments for cigar-smoking puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, handled by comedian Robert Smigel, was detained by Capitol Police, and Colbert himself addressed the arrests on his show Monday.

triumphcapitol.jpg
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the Capitol.

(Screen shot, courtesy of CBS.)

“The United States Capitol Police (USCP) has been working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia on the June 16, 2022, Unlawful Entry case that involved a group of nine people associated with The Late Show,” the U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement Monday.

“The USCP arrested nine people for Unlawful Entry charges because members of the group had been told several times before they entered the Congressional buildings that they had to remain with a staff escort inside the buildings and they failed to do so,” the Capitol Police added. “The United States Capitol Police was just informed the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is declining to prosecute the case. We respect the decision that office has made.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia also released a statement.

“After a comprehensive review of all of the evidence and the relevant legal authority, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has determined that it cannot move forward with misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry against the nine individuals who were arrested on June 16, 2022 at the Longworth Office Building,” the office said.

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“The individuals, who entered the building on two separate occasions, were invited by Congressional staffers to enter the building in each instance and were never asked to leave by the staffers who invited them, though, members of the group had been told at various points by the U.S. Capitol Police that they were supposed to have an escort,” the statement adds. “The Office would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these invited guests were guilty of the crime of unlawful entry because their escort chose to leave them unattended. We do not believe it is probable that the Office would be able to obtain and sustain convictions on these charges. The defendants no longer will be required to appear for a scheduled hearing in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on July 20, 2022.”

The arrests took place on June 16. The production team was there to conduct interviews with Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), who both serve on the Jan. 6 committee, which held a hearing that day, as well as with Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), who is not a member of the panel, the Washington Examiner previously reported.

A congressional source told the Washington Examiner that the Late Show crew members were asked to leave earlier in the day that Thursday when they were outside the Jan. 6 committee hearing room without proper media credentials. Despite the earlier warning, the crew came back later to film segments for the show and were creating a disturbance by banging on congressional doors at night, the source said, adding, “They knew what they were doing was wrong.”

The team was let back into the House office buildings by an Auchincloss aide sometime after 4:30 p.m, according to Fox News, which said it was told the Auchincloss staffer was informed that the crew had more interviews to conduct.

“The congressman had a scheduled interview with CBS, as did other members of Congress,” Matt Corridoni, Auchincloss’s spokesman, told the Washington Examiner on Monday. “Our contact with them ended well before the building closed for the evening. We do not condone any inappropriate activity and cannot speak to anything that occurred after hours.”

Colbert himself addressed the arrests on his show the Monday following the incident.

“The Capitol Police were just doing their job. My staff was just doing their job. Everyone was very professional. Everyone was very calm. My staffers were detained, processed, and released,” Colbert said before railing against “TV people” who compared the actions of Colbert’s team to the rioters on Jan. 6. “This was first-degree puppetry. This was high jinks with intent to goof, misappropriation of an old Conan bit,” he quipped.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) previously sent a letter to Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger seeking information, including surveillance footage, related to the arrests. The Washington Examiner reached out to the Capitol Police for comment on the letter.

Jerry Dunleavy contributed to this report.



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