Following the widely publicized June arrest of nine staffers from “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” the charges of unlawful entry have been thrown out, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said Monday in a statement.
The office “has determined that it cannot move forward with misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry,” the statement read, citing the fact that the employees, including Triumph puppeteer Robert Smigel, “were invited by congressional staffers” both times they entered the Longworth Office Building on June 16.
Although they “were never asked to leave,” and the U.S. Capitol Police who arrested them informed they they were supposed to have an escort, the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office decided it was could prove unlawful entry beyond a reasonable doubt. They are no longer required to appear at a previously scheduled court date on July 20.
On June 20, Colbert mocked the conservative outcry over the supposed break-in, saying that if his staff was guilty of anything, it was “first degree puppetry. Hijinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan [O’Brien] bit.” Colbert himself was not with his staff on June 16 and was therefore not among those who were arrested.
He went on to call out people who were equating the arrest to the Jan. 6 insurrection, “Drawing any equivalences between riots storming our capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots, and a cigar-smoking talking dog, is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died. And it obscenely trivializes the service and courage the Capitol police showed on that terrible day.”
Here is the complete statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia:
“After a comprehensive review of all of the evidence and the relevant legal authority, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has determined that it cannot move forward with misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry against the nine individuals who were arrested on June 16, 2022 at the Longworth Office Building. The individuals, who entered the building on two separate occasions, were invited by Congressional staffers to enter the building in each instance and were never asked to leave by the staffers who invited them, though, members of the group had been told at various points by the U.S. Capitol Police that they were supposed to have an escort. The Office would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these invited guests were guilty of the crime of unlawful entry because their escort chose to leave them unattended. We do not believe it is probable that the Office would be able to obtain and sustain convictions on these charges. The defendants no longer will be required to appear for a scheduled hearing in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on July 20, 2022.”