On Thursday night, seven individuals associated with the Late Show hosted by Stephen Colbert were arrested for allegedly trespassing in a building on Capital Hill. One of the individuals said to be accompanying the group included comedian Robert Smigel, who is best known as the voice of Triumph the Insult Dog.
While the individuals were never a danger to anyone at the capitol, they had been asked to leave earlier in the day.
The group had attempted to gain access to the January 6 hearings being held earlier Thursday, but they were denied entrance to the proceedings. They were told they lacked the proper credentials. Prior to this, the staffers had applied for press credentials, but were told that they were not considered “news” but more “comedy.”
A spokesperson for CBS, who runs the Stephen Colbert late night talk show, told The New York Post that the staffers had been at Capitol Hill both Wednesday and Thursday to do interviews with three members of the House of Representatives. The interviews were going to be part of a segment involving Smigel’s Triump the Insult Dog. CBS says that these interviews were “authorized and prearranged through Congressional aides of the (House) members.”
The three Congresspeople included Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Stephanie Murphy (D-MA). It was one of Auchincloss’ aides that allegedly let the filming crew into the Longworth House Office Building. The building was closed to the public at the time.
The Colbert staffers were found about 8:30 PM by Capitol Police in the Longworth House building of office suites. The US Capitol Police released a statement, saying the filming crew “were unescorted and without Congressional ID” when they were accosted on the sixth floor of the building. Capitol Police reiterated that they had asked the filming and production crew to leave Capitol Hill earlier in the day.
Fox News is reporting that they were escorted out at that point, but Auchincloss’ aide allegedly let them back in the building around 4:00 PM that same day. The aide was under the impression that the film and production crew had more interviews to complete.
According to CBS, when the group was detained by Capitol Police, the crew was only there “to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements.”
Fox News is also reporting that the camera and production crew took pictures near the offices of Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), current House Minority Leader.
The camera and production crew were charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 penalty.
The U.S. Capitol Police said that they received a phone call noting a “call for a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building,” and they were arrested after the police investigating the incident learned they’d already been asked to leave the grounds early Thursday.
The U.S. Capitol Police also said that the investigation is ongoing, and there could be other charges levied on the individuals.
Twitter erupted on Friday night with comparisons to the January 6 insurrection. Some said the Colbert staff should be treated with the same punishment as many of those who participated in the riots on January 6. Many tweeted that the unlawful entry was “an insurrection,” while others questioned why the film crew was near the offices of Rep. Boebert and Rep. McCarthy (it’s well-known that neither Boebert nor McCarthy are favored among Democrats). One tweet even went so far as to ask if the film crew was there to plant evidence or to intimidate conservative members of the House.
One tweet read: “6/17 will go down in history as one of the darkest days for Americans.”
One should note, however, there was no damage done to the Longworth House Office Building.