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Insurrection 2.0? Stephen Colbert calls Capitol mishap ‘hijinks with intent to goof’

June 21, 2022 Updated Tue., June 21, 2022 at 8:13 p.m.

Actor and comedian Robert Smigel performs as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in the hallways outside the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on June 16, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Actor and comedian Robert Smigel performs as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in the hallways outside the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on June 16, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Kenan Draughorne Los Angeles Times

Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert has issued a blistering response to some of his crew being arrested and detained near the U.S. Capitol last week.

While filming material for a “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” segment at Longworth House Office Building – just south of the U.S. Capitol – seven members of the production team for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” were arrested and charged Thursday with unlawful entry.

According to Colbert and CBS, the staffers were on-site to have Triumph, a puppet voiced by longtime “Saturday Night Live” writer Robert Smigel, conduct “authorized and prearranged interviews” with congresspeople about the Jan. 6 insurrection hearings. After finishing two days of interviews, though, Colbert said the team stayed to film additional content, at which point it was detained by Capitol police.

“Which actually isn’t that surprising,” Colbert said Monday in his show’s opening monologue. “The Capitol police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for very good reason. If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch.”

Colbert admitted it was a very “unpleasant” experience for his staff, although he said both police and the production team remained professional throughout the ordeal.

He sharply dismissed claims, however, that the incident was an elaborate plan to interrupt congressional actions, after TV pundits such as Tucker Carlson ran a segment titled “Insurrection Day 2.0.”

“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 said. “This was first-degree puppetry. This was high jinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan (O’Brien) bit.”

According to U.S. Capitol Police, the production team could face additional criminal charges for the incident.

“On June 16, 2022, at approximately 8:30 p.m., U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) received a call for a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building,” U.S. Capitol Police said Thursday in a statement. “Responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway. The building was closed to visitors, and these people were determined to be a part of a group that had been directed by the USCP to leave the building earlier in the day. They were charged with Unlawful Entry.” This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney.”

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