- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2022

The nine people associated with “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” arrested at the Capitol last month will not be prosecuted.

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced Monday that law enforcement has been working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia on the June 16 “unlawful entry” case that involved a group of nine people associated with the show.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office informed the police department that it is declining to prosecute the case.

“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,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Bill Miller said.

“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.”  

Mr. Miller noted that 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” and did not believe it was “probable” that prosecutors would be able to obtain and sustain convictions on these charges.

In a terse statement, the USCP said that “we respect the decision that office has made.”

According to the USCP, officers arrested nine people on unlawful-entry charges because members of the group had been told several times before they entered the Congressional buildings that they had to remain with a staff escort inside the buildings, and “they failed to do so.”

The USCP arrested the group on the night of June 16 in the Longworth House Office Building after being escorted out of the Jan. 6 committee hearing earlier in the day because they did not have the appropriate press credentials.

The same group returned Thursday evening after the Capitol complex was closed to public visitors and took videos and pictures around the offices of two Republican lawmakers, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” team attempted to get press credentials for the Jan. 6 hearing that day, but the House Radio/TV Gallery denied the request because the show is entertainment, not news.

The Colbert team had conducted interviews earlier on Thursday with Democratic members of the Jan. 6 panel, including Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts.

Capitol Police saw some of the team at the Jan. 6 committee area, and were told to leave the area but were let back into the Longworth House Office Building by an aide to Mr. Auchincloss who reportedly believed the crew had more interviews scheduled.

For several hours thereafter, the Colbert team walked unattended throughout the hallways of the building.

By 8:30 p.m., USCP received a call from the Longworth Building reporting a disturbance.

Among the nine Colbert team who was arrested and released several hours later was Robert Smigel, a comedy writer and puppeteer best known as “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.”

Partially because it involved the Jan. 6 panel, the Colbert case became a cause celebre for conservatives seeing a double standard in the treatment of Capitol security and the media coverage thereof. “Unlawful entry” is the formal charge faced by most of that day’s rioters who have been jailed and prosecuted, with some being held in solitary confinement.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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