Stephen Colbert Explains Why Team Members Were Arrested on Capitol Hill Last Week

Stephen Colbert is defending members of his team who were recently detained on Capitol Hill.

During Monday night's monologue of The Late Show, the host, 58, explained the situation that unfolded in Washington, D.C. last week and defended both his team and Capitol Hill security for how it was handled.

"Last week I heard from my old colleague Triumph the Insult Comic Dog," Colbert said in the beginning of his monologue, talking about his regular puppet guest. "Triumph offered to go down to D.C. to interview some congresspeople to highlight the Jan. 6 hearings. I said 'Sure, if you can get anyone to agree to talk to you, because — and please don't take this as an insult — you're a puppet."

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To Colbert's surprise, however, both Democrat and Republican politicians agreed to talk to Triumph. With guests secured, Triumph and The Late Show's team went through all necessary security and filmed "for two days in congressional offices."

The host also emphasized how they were "invited into the offices of the congresspeople they were interviewing." He added, "And that's very important, you have to invite Triumph in — he works on Dracula rules."

"Thursday evening, after they'd finished their interviews, they were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by the Capitol Police," he said, adding that he wasn't surprised by the extra caution after the Capitol was breached during the 2021 riots.

Celebrities with Species Named After Them
Celebrities with Species Named After Them


Though a delicate situation, Colbert didn't blame anyone involved. "The Capitol Police were just doing their job," he said, "my staff was just doing their job."

He added, "Everyone was very professional, everyone was very calm."

"My staffers were detained, processed and released," he detailed. "A very unpleasant experience for my staff, a lot of paperwork for the Capitol Police. But a fairly simple story."

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However, the story took a turn the next night "when a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had 'committed insurrection' at the U.S. Capitol building," Colbert said. Though he did not name names, The Washington Post reports the quote came from Fox News' Tucker Carlson.

"First of all, what? Second of all, huh? Third of all, they weren't in the Capitol building," the host said. "Fourth of all — and I'm 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 added jokingly. "This was high jinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old 'Conan' bit. It's really Conan's fault."

RELATED: 6 in 10 Americans Think Trump Should Be Charged for Capitol Riots, Believe Jan. 6 Investigation Is Fair: Poll

Capitol Hill Security Fencing Installed Ahead Of State Of The Union Speech
Capitol Hill Security Fencing Installed Ahead Of State Of The Union Speech

Pete Marovich/Getty

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Though seemingly confused with the reaction, Colbert said he is not surprised. "They want to talk about something other than the January 6th hearings or the actual seditionist insurrection that led to the deaths of multiple people, and the injury of over 140 police officers," he said.

"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."

RELATED: Capitol Police Officer Testifies About the 'Carnage' of Jan. 6: 'I Was Slipping in People's Blood'

Colbert then joked the incident happened on the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in: "Are we supposed to believe that was a coincidence? Yes!"

The host also joked that it was similar to such "puppet lawlessness" as "The Great Muppet Caper" and "the 'Fraggle' riots of the 1980s."

He added, "But in this case, our puppet was just a puppet doing puppet stuff. And sad to say, so much has changed in Washington that the Capitol Police do have to stay at high alert all the time because of the attack on January 6th," he said. "And as the hearings prove more clearly every day, the blame for that actual insurrection all goes to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's puppet."