'Late Show' producers arrested at U.S. Capitol while filming television stunt

At the time of the arrest, the team had finished prearranged interviews with members of Congress and were filming 'final comedy elements' in the building’s hallways for an upcoming segment on 'The Late Show'

“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” guest Brian Greene helps the host with a science experiment.

Scott Kowalchyk, Contributor / CBS

Police at the U.S. Capitol have arrested members of the CBS show “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” who were filming a segment featuring a salty canine puppet voiced by comedian Robert Smigel.

The Capitol Police said Friday that they had arrested seven people in a hallway of the Capitol Building on Thursday night, at a time when the building was closed to visitors. The people had been told to leave the building earlier in the day, police said.

CBS said that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, the puppet that Smigel has voiced for years, had been at the Capitol on Thursday with a production team when they were detained by police. At the time of the arrest, the team had finished prearranged interviews with members of Congress and were filming “final comedy elements” in the building’s hallways for an upcoming segment on “The Late Show.”

The seven people were later charged with unlawful entry, and an investigation is now underway in consultation with Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, the Capitol Police said, adding that more criminal charges may be filed. Graves’ office could not immediately be reached for comment Friday night.

The arrests in the Longworth House Office Building occurred at a time when Congress is holding televised hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the same building, in which supporters of President Donald Trump violently stormed the Capitol complex.

Word of the arrests was sure to provide fodder for pundits, comedians and politicians.

Soon after news of the arrests broke Friday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson told viewers that Colbert’s producers had “just committed insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol building. “It’s exactly like what happened on Jan 6., so we’ll take a close look at what the punishments are,” he said.

“Liz Cheney, call your office,” Carlson added, referring to the Republican congresswoman from Wyoming and the vice chair of the committee investigating last year’s attack. “We’ve got another committee to impanel.”

Smigel, the comedian who plays Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, could not be reached for comment Friday night. CBS declined to provide further information about the arrests, nor would it say when the segment featuring Smigel’s canine puppet would air.

Smigel is a former writer for “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and his puppet is an irreverent, cigar-chomping dog who sometimes roams the halls of American power. Days after the 2016 presidential election, Colbert introduced Triumph on his show as “an old friend and veteran of the campaign trail, a true mandarin of his business and a toy Rottweiler.”

In a 2016 election special earlier that year, Triumph had described himself as an “insult comic.”

“That’s the wave of the future,” he told the Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. “That’s what Trump is doing.”

In a February 2020 segment of Colbert’s “Late Show,” Triumph visited the U.S. Capitol and joined a scrum of reporters around Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

“Hey, Mitt!” he said. “I’m a dog journalist! Can I get a ride home on your roof?” (Romney did not reply.)

Later, when Triumph tried to enter a secure area of the Capitol building, a security guard told him that he did not have access.

“I’m here to report on the very important waste of time going on in the chamber,” he replied.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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