Colbert: Comparing arrests of production crew at Capitol complex to Jan. 6 'shameful and grotesque'

Seven Colbert staffers were arrested last week for being in a Capitol building at night without proper authorization.

Updated: June 21, 2022 - 10:27am

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Stephen Colbert, host of CBS's "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" says the recent arrests of members of his production crew at the U.S. Capitol complex were "very professional" interactions between his staffers and the arresting officers.

Colbert made the comment Monday on his show, after the crew was apprehended Thursday night by Capitol police for being in a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol complex, the Longworth House Office Building.

He told the audience that he'd had an "interesting" weekend "and some members of my staff had a memorable one." 

"The Capitol police were just doing their job, my staff was just doing their job, everyone was very professional, everyone was very calm," he said. "My staffers were detained, processed and released. A very unpleasant experience for my staff."

The group dubbed the "Colbert Seven" was arrested for unlawful entry. Among the group members was Robert Smigel, the puppeteer best known for his "Triumph the Insult Consult Dog" character. 

The host said his staff had spent the day conducting interviews with lawmakers and "were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway" when they were approached and detained by USCP officers.

Earlier in the day, the staff had conducted interviews with members of the Jan. 6 committee, including Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), and Jake Auchincloss (Mass.)

Police and Auchincloss's office also confirmed Monday to Just the News that the Massachusetts congressman's office was involved in checking Colbert's team into Longworth last Thursday for an interview.

Some people have tried to draw a parallel between the incident and the Jan. 6 riot, particularly about whether those who participated in the respective incidents gained access to the Capitol complex with the help of elected officials or their staff.

Colbert, a political comedian, said he was "shocked that he has to explain the difference" between the Jan. 6 "insurrection" and what his staffers were doing wandering around a Capitol building unescorted at night.

He called the incident "first-degree puppetry" before saying that taking his staffers' security violation seriously "obscenely trivializes the service and courage the Capitol police showed on that terrible day."

"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.

According to a statement from the Capitol police, "Responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway. he 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 officers charged the individuals with unlawful entry and said this is an "active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney."