Last Updated on July 19, 2022
U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves has dropped charges against a group of Stephen Colbert staffers who were arrested for trespassing in a House office building. Graves just recently requested terrorism enhancements for the first January 6 defendant who was convicted after opting to stand trial.
“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 U.S. Attorney’s office wrote in a statement.
The U.S. attorney stated that because the nine staffers were not asked to leave, they could not be charged with the same crime Trump supporters have been thrown in solitary confinement for since January 6. “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 statement continued.
“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.”
The United States Capitol Police (USCP) released a statement saying they “respect the decision that office has made” and referred any questions about the decision to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Fox News reported.
The nine staffers were arrested last month after filming a segment for the Colbert show’s “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” sketch. Among those arrested was Robert Smigel, the puppeteer for “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog,” a character on Colbert’s show, along with writer Josh Comers, associate producer Allison Martinez and senior producer Jake Plunkett.
Colbert’s crew reportedly tried to gain entry to the January 6 committee’s public hearings, but they were denied on grounds of being considered entertainment, not news.
According to police, the Colbert staffers were charged with unlawful entry after being found acting “disruptive, loud” and “theatrical” near the office of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) ., in the Longworth House Office Building. They had conducted interviews earlier in the day with U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Jake Auchincloss (D-MA).
An aide to Auchincloss reportedly let the group back inside the Longworth Building after they were escorted out.
The move comes just days after U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves requested “domestic terrorism” enhancements for an obstruction conviction of January 6 defendant Guy Reffit. He faces up to 15 years in prison for picketing at the Capitol of a judge agrees with the suggestion.