The 80-year-old told investigators in January that the insurrection was a “staged” act and that many of the people he saw “cursing, screaming, knocking cops away, breaking windows and doors, and entering the Capitol” were “members of antifa.” According to the complaint, Wickersham also believed his 20 minutes inside the Capitol were authorized “because he pays his taxes.”
Wickersham was arrested Tuesday and faces a charge of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and one for unlawful entry into a restricted area. He is among more than 410 people who face an array of federal charges stemming from the attack. At least 40 of those are from Pennsylvania, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
Wickersham declined to comment through his lawyer on Wednesday. His attorney, Mike Noone, said Wickersham “takes these charges very seriously.”
Like many of the other rioters who have been arrested in recent months, video from the heavily documented Capitol breach and Wickersham’s own digital footprint led investigators to his door. While friends and family members have in some cases turned over evidence of their loved ones’ involvement in the attack, several alleged rioters incriminated themselves by posting photos, videos and other proof to social media. A former Salt Lake City police officer texted “We stormed the Capitol” to friends and was promptly turned in, while a Republican state delegate from West Virginia resigned after he live-streamed and narrated video of the breach, saying, “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
According to the court documents, Wickersham texted an acquaintance that he was inside the Capitol. The acquaintance told a third person, who investigators indicate also knew Wickersham. Within three days of the riot, the tipster with secondhand knowledge of Wickersham’s actions contacted the FBI.
Investigators interviewed Wickersham at his West Chester home on Jan. 15, where he confirmed much of what the FBI suspected: He admitted to taking a bus to Washington with other supporters of President Donald Trump, attending Trump’s rally at the Ellipse and then marching to the Capitol.
Wickersham allegedly said he saw people “cursing, screaming, knocking cops away, breaking windows and doors, and entering the Capitol” — individuals he told the FBI he believed were “members of antifa.”
He further alleged the siege was “staged” in a ploy to make Trump supporters look bad, investigators said.
“The defendant stated that he believed … that law enforcement purposefully did not have enough resources there so that supporters of the former president could be labeled as ‘intruders,’” the complaint reads.
Despite Wickersham’s alleged belief that the riot was a setup, he confirmed his presence down to the clothing he wore that day. His descriptions were consistent with at least eight different video stills from footage that purported to show Wickersham entering through the Senate Wing door, walking through the Capitol crypt, past offices including that of House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and ultimately out through the Upper West Terrace.
In all, he spent 20 minutes inside the building, investigators said.
Wickersham was released Tuesday after his arrest and was ordered to surrender any firearms and remain in the area. Apart from trial appearances and legal consultations, he is prohibited from visiting Washington.