Late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert used his opening monologue on Monday to defend his staffers arrested last week for unlawfully entering an office building at the United States Capitol.
The group of nine staffers included Robert Smigel, the voice of a puppet known as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, who was conducting interviews related to the January 6 committee hearings.
Colbert said the encounter caused an unpleasant experience for his staff, and a lot of paperwork for the Capitol Police, but was a “fairly simple” story.
“Until the next night when a couple of the TV people started claiming my puppet squad ‘committed insurrection’ at the U.S. Capitol Building,” Colbert said.
“I’m shocked I have to explain the difference,” he added. “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 — this was first-degree puppetry.”
Colbert claimed Triumph and the production team offered to travel to Washington, D.C., and interview Democrats and Republicans inside congressional offices “across the street” from the U.S. Capitol.
“They went through security clearance, shot all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, invited into the offices of the congresspeople they were interviewing,” he said.
But according to a U.S. Capitol Police statement, “responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway.”
However, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) said in a letter addressed to the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police that the staffers were part of a group who were directed by USCP officers to leave the building earlier in the day.
According to the letter, the individuals reportedly gained access back into the building through Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-CA) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House Select Committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021.
“These individuals were arrested and charged with unlawful entry after causing ‘disturbances’ at the offices of several Republican members, including ‘banging’ on their office doors,” the letter reads.
A spokesperson for CBS — Colbert’s network — told Fox News that “after leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police.”
Authorities have arrested more than 840 people for storming the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, with 185 receiving criminal sentences.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, more than 80 defendants have been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon, more than 50 defendants have been charged with destruction of government property, and approximately 35 defendants have been charged with theft of government property.