DOJ won’t prosecute Colbert show staff after trespassing arrests, Capitol police say

A girl takes a photo of the marquee for ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, New York.

andrew kelly | Reuters

Federal prosecutors on Monday declined to prosecute a group of people associated with Stephen Colbert’s late-night talk show who were arrested for illegally entering a congressional office building, U.S. Capitol Police said .

The group of nine people associated with CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” were arrested last month for ignoring instructions to stay with a staff escort inside the building, police said in a statement. hurry.

“The members of the group were informed several times before entering the congressional buildings that they were to remain with a staff escort inside the buildings and they did not do so,” the statement said.

They were there to film a segment of the show featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a vulgar cigar-smoking hand puppet voiced and operated by comedian Robert Smigel who appeared on late-night comedy shows for years. decades.

“The United States Capitol Police have just been notified that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is declining to pursue the matter,” police said.

“We respect the decision made by this office,” the ministry added.

The Colbert show’s production team had scheduled interviews on Capitol Hill that were “cleared and pre-arranged by the Congressional aides of the members interviewed,” said Renata Luczak, vice president of entertainment communications for CBS. , in an email to NBC News a day after the June 16 arrest.

That evening, police said they responded to a call for a disturbance at the Longworth House office building, where they found the group “unescorted and without Congressional ID cards, in a hallway of the sixth floor”.

“The building was closed to visitors, and these individuals were determined to be part of a group that had been ordered from the USCP to leave the building earlier in the day. They have been charged with unlawful entry. “, the department said in a June statement. 17 statement.

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said that after reviewing the evidence, it “cannot move forward with misdemeanor trespass charges against the nine individuals who were arrested. June 16, 2022 at the Longworth Office Building”.

The office confirmed that these individuals were invited by congressional staff “and were never asked to leave by the staff members who invited them, however, members of the group were informed at various times by United States Capitol Police that they were supposed to have an escort.”

“The Bureau would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these guests were guilty of the crime of unlawful entry because their escort chose to leave them unattended,” the prosecutor’s office said. “We do not believe it is likely that the Bureau will be able to obtain and maintain convictions on these charges.”

The group will no longer have to appear in court later this month, the statement added.

The arrests were made following a public hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when a violent mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building, disrupting the transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden.

Some conservative critics, such as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, have attempted to draw comparisons between late-night staffers and Capitol rioters in order to suggest a double standard in treatment by law enforcement.