Seven staff members from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert were arrested for allegedly trespassing in a Capitol Hill building on Thursday night, authorities have said. All seven were each charged with unlawful entry.
The employees, including Robert Smigel, the voice behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, were found by US Capitol police (USCP) officers inside the Longworth House Office Building, which houses offices for members of the House of Representatives.
The building was closed to the public at the time, and Capitol police said they had asked the group to leave the grounds earlier in the day. The group were “unescorted and without congressional ID” in a hallway on the sixth floor, USCP said.
The people identified themselves as being affiliated with CBS’s Late Show, a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press.
“Their interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through congressional aides of the members interviewed,” CBS said.
“After leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film standups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol police,” the network added.
The intrusion comes amid heightened sensitivity around unlawful or unauthorized access to congressional buildings and came as the third public hearing by the House panel investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection concluded.
Capitol police said they received a call about a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building around 8.30pm.
“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,” Capitol police said in a statement.
The USCP statement said the case remains “an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges”.
According to Fox News, which first reported the incident, the Late Show staffers reportedly applied to get press credentials for the hearing, but were denied by the House Radio/TV Gallery because they are not considered “news”.
CBS told the New York Post that the production team was at the Capitol on Wednesday and Thursday to record interviews with House members for a segment of Colbert’s comic dog sketch. Democrats Adam Schiff, Stephanie Murphy and Jake Auchincloss had reportedly been interviewed by the cigar-chomping puppet.
They were reportedly escorted out of the building earlier in the day but had re-entered by an aide to Auchincloss who believed they had more interviews to conduct.
The arrests were politically re-contextualized on social media: “What did the J6 committee know and when did they know it about the Colbert insurrection at the Capitol?” posted Mollie Hemmingway, editor the Federalist.