The nine “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” staffers who were arrested for unlawful entry to the Capitol complex in June will not be prosecuted, the US Attorney’s Office announced on Monday.
The Colbert crew, including the puppeteer behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, were arrested while filming a segment related to the January 6th Select Committee after being told to leave the building by Capitol Police on June 16.
After being told the leave the first time, the crew was escorted back in, left alone by their escort, and allegedly began banging on the doors of Republican lawmakers.
In a statement about the decision not to move forward with charges, the US Attorney’s Office said that they do not think they could prove guilt.
“After a comprehensive review of all of the evidence and the relevant legal authority, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has determined that it cannot move forward with misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry against the nine individuals who were arrested on June 16, 2022 at the Longworth Office Building,” the office said in the statement.
“The Office would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these invited guests were guilty of the crime of unlawful entry because their escort chose to leave them unattended. We do not believe it is probable that the Office would be able to obtain and sustain convictions on these charges,” the statement added.
The Capitol Police also issued a statement responding to the lack of prosecution, saying that they respect the decision.
“The USCP arrested nine people for Unlawful Entry charges because members of 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 USCP said. “The United States Capitol Police was just informed the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is declining to prosecute the case. We respect the decision that office has made.”
In the days following the incident, Reps. Jim Jordan and Rodney Davis sent a letter to the chief of the Capitol Police demanding more information.
“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. “Unlike the Democrat allegations of reconnaissance tours, however, the events on June 16 actually resulted in arrests for unlawful entry.”
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.”
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.”