Colbert Staffers Won't Be Tried Over Capitol Trip

Prosecutors say conviction seemed unlikely
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2022 6:39 PM CDT
Updated Jul 18, 2022 6:35 PM CDT

Update: The nine Late Show staff members arrested at the US Capitol complex will not face trial on unlawful entry charges, federal prosecutors have decided. A spokesman said conviction seemed unlikely because the people arrested had been invited and weren't asked to leave by their escorts, the AP reports. A spokesman for Stephen Colbert's show did not return a request for comment, per Deadline. Our story from June 21 follows:

In his Late Show monologue Monday night, Stephen Colbert said the staff members arrested at a Capitol Hill office building Thursday night were just doing the jobs, as were the Capitol Police officers who arrested them—and he was extremely scathing about conservative commentators who claimed his "puppet squad" had "committed insurrection." "They weren't in the Capitol building," Colbert said, per NPR. "And I'm shocked I have 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."

Colbert explained that the production crew had received security clearance to film segments with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in congressional offices Wednesday and Thursday. "Democratic and Republican congresspeople agreed to talk to Triumph," Colbert said. "He's a bipartisan puppy. He's so neutral, he's neutered." He said they were detained while doing "some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-'em-ups" in a hallway of the Longworth House Office Building. It's not clear whether Capitol Police had been told they would be in the building, which is normally closed to visitors, the AP reports.

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Colbert said his team, who were processed and released, were guilty only of "first-degree puppetry" and "hijinks with intent to goof." "The Capitol police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason," Colbert said. In a swipe at Fox News, he added: "If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch." Colbert said that likening the Capitol riot to the puppet incident "obscenely trivializes the service and the courage the Capitol Police showed on that terrible day." (More Stephen Colbert stories.)

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