Stephen Colbert is speaking out after staff members of his “Late Show” were detained by U.S. Capitol Police last Thursday after conducting interviews on a day when the Jan. 6 committee hearings were taking place.
Colbert said on his show Monday night that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a popular puppet voiced by comedian Robert Smigel, went to Washington to speak with members of Congress. He said Triumph and his crew “shot for two days in congressional offices across the street from the Capitol building” after clearing security and having been invited to speak with lawmakers.
Colbert said the Capitol Police “approached and detained” his team after the interviews were finished on Thursday.
The Capitol Police and his staff were all “doing their job,” he said.
“Everyone was very professional, everyone was very calm,” Colbert said. “My staffers were detained, processed and released. A very unpleasant experience for my staff, a lot of paperwork for the Capitol Police, but a fairly simple story,” he said before noting the next night “a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had ‘committed insurrection’ at the U.S. Capitol Building,” a reference to a comment made by Tucker Carlson on Fox News.
“I am shocked I have to explain the difference, 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,” he said. “This was high jinks with intent to goof.”
Colbert then explained why he thinks it’s easier to focus on his team than the ongoing hearings.
“They want to talk about something other than the Jan. 6 hearings on the actual seditionist insurrection that led to the deaths of multiple people and the injury of over 140 police officers, but drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died and it obscenely trivializes the service and the courage the Capitol Police showed on that terrible day,” he said.
“But who knows? Maybe there was a vast conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States with a rubber Rottweiler,” he joked.
Renata Luczak, vice president of entertainment communications for CBS, said last week the production team had been on Capitol Hill Wednesday and Thursday.
“Their interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed,” Luczak said in an email. “After leaving the members’ office 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.”
Colbert also poked fun at examples of other alleged “puppet lawlessness,” citing “The Great Muppet Caper,” “the Fraggle riots of the 1980s” and King Friday’s rise to power in the land of Make-Believe.
He also took a swipe at former President Donald Trump for his role in the riots, while saying the Capitol Police need to be on “high alert” because of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“As the hearings prove more clearly every day, the blame for that actual insurrection all lies with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s puppet,” he said.