Stephen Colbert breaks silence on staffers’ Capitol arrests: ‘First-degree puppetry’


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Stephen Colbert addressed the recent arrests of his crew and production members, who were caught and charged with being in an unauthorized area of a U.S. Capitol building last week.

During Monday night’s “Late Show,” Colbert downplayed the arrests as a “very professional” interaction between his staff and “cautious” Capitol Police officers.

The host opened the show by asking the audience about their weekends before joking, “Well, I had an interesting one and some members of my staff had a memorable one.”

Comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert addressed the recent arrests of his crew and production members in an unauthorized area of a U.S. Capitol building.

Comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert addressed the recent arrests of his crew and production members in an unauthorized area of a U.S. Capitol building.
(“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”/CBS)

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

TWITTER REACTS TO COLBERT STAFFER ARRESTS AT CAPITOL: ‘INSURRECTION’

On Thursday, a group dubbed “the Colbert Seven” were arrested for unlawful entry in the Longworth House Office Building.

Among those arrested was Robert Smigel, the puppeteer for “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog,” a character on CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16: Actor and comedian Robert Smigel performs as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in the hallways outside the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 16: Actor and comedian Robert Smigel performs as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in the hallways outside the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“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.

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US CAPITOL POLICE ARREST STEPHEN COLBERT STAFFERS AT HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, CHARGED WITH ILLEGAL ENTRY

He continued, “A lot of paperwork for the Capitol police but a fairly simple story… until the next night when a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had quote, ‘committed insurrection’ at the U.S. Capitol building.”

Colbert claimed his staff was not in the main Capitol building, and he said he was “shocked that he has to explain the difference, but 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.”

CBS's "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" host Stephen Colbert addressed the recent arrests of his crew and production members during a broadcast on June 20, 2022. 

CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” host Stephen Colbert addressed the recent arrests of his crew and production members during a broadcast on June 20, 2022. 
(“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”/CBS)

He tagged the incident as “first-degree puppetry,” then blamed former President Trump for the Jan. 6 capitol riot.

Colbert accused journalists covering the story of looking for an excuse to talk about something other than the Jan. 6 hearings and said drawing an equivalence to the rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 is a “shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died.”

He said it “obscenely trivializes the service and courage the Capitol police showed on that terrible day.” He joked that perhaps there was a vast conspiracy by his staffers to overthrow the government with a rubber rottweiler – a reference to the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet.

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The staffers were arrested after U.S. Capitol Police responded to a call about a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building around 8:30 p.m.

“Responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway,” the police said in a statement. “The building was closed to visitors, and these individuals were determined to be a part of a group that had been directed by the USCP to leave the building earlier in the day.”

The Capitol Police said the individuals were charged with unlawful entry. “This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney,” the USCP added.

Earlier in the day, they conducted interviews with members of the Jan. 6 Select Committee, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla, and Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass.

Seven staffers for CBS's "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" were arrested in the Longworth House Office Building last Thursday.

Seven staffers for CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” were arrested in the Longworth House Office Building last Thursday.
(CBS)

Sources tell Fox News that an aide to Auchincloss let them back into the House office buildings around 4:00 p.m. and they were left unattended for several hours. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., are now asking Capitol Police for more information about how the group was able to gain accesses to the House building.

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A spokesperson for CBS told Fox News last week that the “interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed.” 

Fox News’ Lorraine Taylor, Chad Pergram and Paul Best contributed to this report.



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