‘Late Show’ staff arrested at US Capitol complex won’t be prosecuted
By Mike Ives
Federal prosecutors said earlier this week that they would not prosecute staff members of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” who were arrested last month at the United States Capitol complex on charges of unlawful entry.
When members of a production team for the CBS show were arrested June 16, they had been filming a segment featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a cigar-chomping canine puppet that is voiced by comedian Robert Smigel, who was among those arrested. Colbert later said on his show that they were guilty of “high jinks with intent to goof.”
The arrests, in a hallway of the Longworth House Office Building, were notable in part because they occurred soon after Congress began holding televised hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, in which supporters of President Donald Trump violently stormed the Capitol complex.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a brief statement Monday that it would not move forward with misdemeanor charges against the nine people arrested by the Capitol Police because the case wasn’t strong enough.
The crew members had been invited to enter the building on two separate occasions by congressional staff who never asked them to leave, although the Capitol Police did tell some members of the group that they were supposed to have an escort, the statement said.
In order to sustain convictions on charges of unlawful entry, prosecutors would have 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,” it said.
“We do not believe it is probable that the office would be able to obtain and sustain convictions on these charges,” the statement said, adding that the defendants would not be required to attend a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
The statement did not say whom the production team had visited at the Longworth House Office Building. Colbert said on his show that the team had been invited to interview Democratic and Republican members of Congress about the Jan. 6 hearings.
Spokespeople for the Justice Department and CBS did not immediately respond to requests for comment overnight.
After the arrests last month, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that the “Late Show” producers had committed “insurrection.” Colbert said a few days later that such criticism amounted to a “shameful and grotesque insult” to the memory of those who died in the Jan. 6 attack.
“But who knows,” he joked on his show, “maybe there was a vast conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States with a rubber Rottweiler.”