US Attorney Declines to Prosecute Colbert Team for Capitol ‘Disturbance’
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has declined to press charges against staffers from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” who were arrested in June for allegedly trespassing in a congressional office building near the U.S. Capitol.
The decision was announced Monday night by the U.S. Capitol Police who had referred the matter to the U.S. attorney.
“We respect the decision that office has made,” the police department said in a written statement.
The situation began at about 8:30 p.m. on June 16, when Capitol Police received a call “for a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building,” which houses offices for members of the House of Representatives.
Upon investigation, officers found the “Late Show” employees “unescorted and without Congressional ID” in a hallway on the sixth floor of the building,
“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 department said.
In an email to The Well News the morning after the incident, the Capitol Police said seven people associated with the “Late Show” had been arrested and charged with unlawful entry. Its latest release on the matter says a total of nine were charged.
The statement from the department said the same group had been escorted from the Jan. 6 committee hearing hours earlier because they lacked proper press credentials.
The “Late Show” staffers had reportedly applied to get press credentials for the hearing but were denied by the House Radio/TV Gallery because they are not considered to be working for a news organization.
In a statement, a spokesperson for CBS said the “Late Show” production team was working on Capitol Hill Wednesday and Thursday, recording interviews with various House members for a segment of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
The staffers stayed in the building “to film stand-ups” in the hallway when Capitol Police detained them, the network said.
Among those interviewed were Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
It has been reported that it was an aide to Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass., who let the crew back into the building after they were booted from the Jan. 6 hearing, believing they had more interviews with members scheduled.
That prompted a stern response from Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., who said via Twitter, “This needs to be investigated, along with any Democrat staffers who may have facilitated law-breaking.”
Colbert himself addressed the arrests during his opening monologue the Monday after they occurred.
He explained that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog had “offered” to travel to Washington to interview members of Congress to highlight the ongoing Jan. 6 hearings.
“I said, ‘Sure, if you can get anyone to agree to talk to you. Because, and please don’t take this as an insult, you’re a puppet,’” Colbert joked.
“After they finished their interviews, they were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by the Capitol police —which actually isn’t that surprising,” Colbert said.
“The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason,” he continued, alluding to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
“If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch,” he quipped.
With that, Colbert turned more serious.
“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 said.
Dan can be reached at email@example.com and @DanMcCue
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