The Washington Post

Charges dropped against Colbert crew members in closed House building

- BY PETER HERMANN

Federal prosecutor­s said Monday that they are not pursuing charges against members of a television production crew for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” who were arrested last month in a House office building closed to visitors.

In a statement, the U.S. attorney’s office for D.C. said that nine members of the show had been invited by congressio­nal staffers into the Longworth House Office Building on June 16 and that an escort left them unattended.

“We do not believe it is probable that the office would be able to obtain and sustain conviction­s on these charges,” the statement from prosecutor­s said.

Capitol Police had charged the Colbert team members — who had entered the building on two separate occasions — with misdemeano­r unlawful entry. Those arrested included the man who voices the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet, who had come to interview members of Congress about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Because prosecutor­s are not pursuing a case, the people initially charged will not have to appear at a hearing that had been scheduled for Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court. In D.C., federal prosecutor­s handle cases in both federal and the local court.

The incident drew attention from conservati­ve media figures, including Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who said on his show that the group had carried out a “meticulous­ly planned coup” in a segment that seemed to take aim at other television hosts for their reaction to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

After the arrests, Colbert joked that an insurrecti­on seeks to “prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” while what his staff did was “first-degree puppetry.”

A representa­tive of the Colbert show did not immediatel­y respond to a request for comment regarding the decision to drop the charges. A spokespers­on for Fox News also did not immediatel­y respond to an inquiry.

Capitol Police had initially said members of the group had been asked to leave the building earlier in the day but had returned.

In a statement Monday, Capitol Police said members of the group had been warned several times before they entered the Longworth building that they had to remain with a staff escort “and they failed to do so.”

The statement added that prosecutor­s informed Capitol Police on Monday that the charges would be dropped. “We respect the decision that office has made,” Capitol Police said.

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