Colbert breaks silence on staffers’ Capitol arrests, jokingly dubs incident ‘first-degree puppetry’

by Will Tubbs

Chris Lange, FISM News


“Late Show” host Stephen Colbert broke his days-long silence late Monday to address the arrests of several of his crew and production members last week who were caught after-hours in an unauthorized area of a U.S. Congressional building on Capitol Hill.

The typically outspoken Colbert remained uncharacteristically tight-lipped over the weekend following news of last Thursday’s arrests, during which seven of his staffers were charged with unlawful entry, but took to the airwaves Monday to joke about the incident in his “Late Show” monologue. 

Colbert opened the show by asking audience members about their weekends before quipping, “I had an interesting one, and some members of my staff had a memorable one.”

The host went on to say, “The Capitol police were just doing their job, my staff was just doing their job. Everyone was very professional, everyone was very calm.” 

The staffers, dubbed “the Colbert seven,” were arrested Thursday evening after U.S. Capitol Police responded to a call about a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building around 8:30.

“Responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway,” the police said in a statement, according to a Fox News report. “The 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.”

Earlier in the day, Colbert’s crew conducted interviews with members of the Jan. 6 Select Committee, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), and Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.). Sources told Fox that one of Auchincloss’s aides let the staffers back into the House office buildings around 4:00 p.m., where they remained unattended for several hours. 

Among those arrested was Robert Smigel, the puppeteer for “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog,” a regular character on the CBS show. 

“After they’d finished their interviews, [my staffers] were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by Capitol Police,” Colbert explained, downplaying the seriousness charges. The staffers spent the night in jail and were released the next day. Capitol Police say the incident is currently under investigation.

“This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney,” the USCP said in a statement.

Colbert also used the opportunity to respond to frequent critic, Fox host Tucker Carlson, who called the incident a “planned coup” and “insurrection” orchestrated by “white extremist” Colbert in a pointed comparison to Colbert’s description of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach by Trump supporters as the “most shocking, most tragic” act he had ever witnessed, calling protesters “domestic terrorists.” Carlson made the remarks during Sunday’s airing of his namesake show. 

“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 quote, ‘committed insurrection’ at the U.S. Capitol building,” Colbert said, calling Carlson’s comments a “shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died” which “obscenely trivializes the service and courage the Capitol police showed on that terrible day.” 

Trump supporter Ashley Babbitt was fatally shot by Capitol police during the riot. Some Democrats continue to claim that Trump supporters killed Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died hours after the breach, though an  autopsy report revealed that he died of natural causes resulting from a series of strokes caused by a blood clot.

Colbert went on to assert that his staff was not in the main Capitol Building and said that he was “shocked that he has to explain the difference, but 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.”

Colbert dismissed the incident as “first-degree puppetry” and accused journalists who covered the story of trying to divert attention away from the Capitol 6 hearings. 

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Rodney Davis R-Ill.) are now asking Capitol Police for more information about how the group was able to gain access to the House building.

A spokesperson for CBS told Fox News last week that the “interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed.”