The Late Show host Stephen Colbert defended his show’s seven staffers that were arrested for unlawful entry at the Capitol last week during Monday evening’s episode.
Colbert called their actions “high jinx with intent to goof.”
The seven staff members, including the puppeteer behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, were at the Capitol filming interviews related to the January 6th Select Committee. According to reports, they began banging on the doors of Republican members of Congress after they had already been told by Capitol Police to leave the building.
“Last week I heard from my old colleague Triumph the Insult Comic Dog,” Colbert said during his show’s opening. “Triumph offered to go down to D.C. to interview some congresspeople to highlight the 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 said that “Triumph” and his crew filmed with various members of congress for two days in the lead up to the incident. He added that they were “invited into the offices of the congresspeople they were interviewing.”
“Thursday evening, after they’d 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. The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason. If you don’t know what that reason is, I know which news network you watch,” Colbert continued.
US Capitol Police arrested and charged the crew after a call complaining about their alleged harassment of Republican lawmakers who did not invite them to their offices.
“Responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway. 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,” USCP said in a statement.
“This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney,” the statement continued.
Naturally, the circumstances and charges prompted comparisons to the actions of those arrested on January 6.
Earlier in the day on Monday, Reps. Jim Jordan and Rodney Davis sent a letter to the chief of the Capitol Police demanding more information about the incident.
“Much has been made lately about unauthorized access to House office buildings, including debunked Democrat allegations that Republican members led so-called reconnaissance tours of the Capitol Complex in advance of January 6,” said the letter to Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, which was obtained by the Washington Times.
“Unlike the Democrat allegations of reconnaissance tours, however, the events on June 16 actually resulted in arrests for unlawful entry,” the letter continued.
According to the letter, after being kicked out of the building, the “individuals reportedly gained access back into the building through Representative Adam Schiff, a member of the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6, and Representative Jake Auchincloss.”
“These individuals were arrested and charged with unlawful entry after causing ‘disturbances’ at the offices of several Republican members, including ‘banging’ on their office doors,” the letter explained. “The individuals were originally in the Capitol Complex in connection with the activities of the January 6th Select Committee, but it is unclear whether the Select Committee had any involvement in or awareness of these individuals’ planned harassment of Republican offices.”
The congressman asked to be provided with security footage of the incident, witness statements, and a report on what took place.
Colbert addressed the comparisons to January 6 by calling them “shameful and grotesque.”
“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,” he said. “A very unpleasant experience for my staff, 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 ‘committed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.'”
The talk show host added that, “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 high jinks with intent to goof.”