Stephen Colbert addresses arrest of production crew by Capitol Police

Late-night comedy show host Stephen Colbert on Monday addressed the arrests of members of his production team on the grounds of the Capitol last week.

Colbert the arrests of seven of his staffers inside a Capitol Hill building and joked that they committed “first-degree puppetry.” Members of the “Late Show” production team were busted Thursday night inside the Longworth House Office Building after filming interviews there earlier in the day for a segment of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

“After they’d finished their interviews, [my staffers] were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-’em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by Capitol Police,” Colbert said during his opening monologue.

Capitol Police confirmed the seven staffers along with Robert Smigel, who voices Triumph, were “unescorted and without Congressional ID” on the sixth floor of the building that was closed to the public at the time.

“The Capitol Police were just doing their job, my staff was just doing their job, everyone was very professional, everyone was very calm,” Colbert said. “My staffers were detained, processed and released. A very unpleasant experience for my staff.”

Colbert said Capitol Police are more cautious about unattended and unpermitted visitors on Capitol grounds than they were 18 months ago “and for a very good reason.”

Colbert then referenced Fox News’ coverage of the incident, with the cable news network suggesting the Late Show crew had caused an “insurrection” of their own. “First of all: what? Second of all: huh? Third of all, they weren’t in the Capitol building!”

Noting that he was “shocked” he had to offer up this explanation, Colbert said, “An insurrection involves disrupting the lawful actions of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. This was first-degree puppetry. This was hijinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan bit.”

He continued, “Drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died.”

Colbert’s comments came just a few days after seven members of his team, including Smigel, were arrested at the Longworth House Office Building after it had closed for the evening. The team had been recording interviews with members of Congress earlier in the day.

“Their interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed,” a CBS spokesperson said. “After leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police.”

However, the U.S. Capitol Police charged them with unlawful entry, citing their presence in the halls without an escort or official ID. A statement from the USCP added that they may press further charges.

“This is an active criminal investigation and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney,” the statement said.




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