Ocean Beach man who claims Trump is still president is charged in Capitol insurrection
Philip Weisbecker has been open with federal authorities about his presence in the Capitol, where he ended up at the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
An Ocean Beach man is among the latest to be charged with violent entry to the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, telling investigators that he believes Donald Trump is the true president and that the fellow Ocean Beach resident killed by police in the rampage — Ashli Babbitt — never existed, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in San Diego.
Philip James Weisbecker was arrested Oct. 21 following a months-long investigation after two tipsters contacted the FBI and sent photos and CNN screenshots placing him in the Capitol building, the complaint states. A similar Fox News screenshot appears on his Facebook page with the comment “If you would like to know the truth .... just ask.”
Weisbecker, a freelance construction estimator, is charged with three misdemeanor counts: illegally entering a restricted building; engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The case will be tried in Washington, D.C.
Weisbecker could not be reached for comment, and his appointed defense attorney did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Weisbecker is among more than 650 people arrested in connection with the attack. More than 90 have pleaded guilty.
According to the complaint, Weisbecker has been open with federal authorities about his presence in the Capitol, as he was flagged for questioning four times in February and March as he crossed from Mexico into the United States at the Tecate Port of Entry.
In his interviews with Customs and Border Protection, along with his Facebook posts, Weisbecker echoed several far-right conspiracy theories concerning the 2020 presidential election and defended the “patriots” who stormed the Capitol, describing them as nonviolent, the complaint states.
He explained to Customs and Border Protection that he traveled to Washington for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally as a citizen journalist to show the world the truth, adding that he didn’t fly across the country to watch from afar.
He said he researched the facts of voter fraud — which Trump laid out during the rally — and arrived at his own conclusion that all the “statistics” point to Trump still being president. The complaint doesn’t specify which statistics he referenced, but courts across the country have found no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.
Weisbecker admitted entering the Capitol through a rear entrance, saying police moved aside barricades and let the crowd in. He moved through the Capitol alongside a videographer from InfoWars — a far-right news and commentary website — and posed for a selfie under the Abraham Lincoln statue in the Rotunda.
He ended up at the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — he said he didn’t remove anything from the California Democrat’s office — and later sat on a sofa outside the doorway.
In one video clip, investigators say, a man believed to be Weisbecker — wearing a red-and-white floral Hawaiian shirt under a dark sports coat — is seen among a group in a chamber hallway. Another person in the background is heard saying, “Drag him out,” according to the complaint.
Weisbecker characterized the insurrection as a peaceful protest and claimed no one died — including Babbitt. Four other deaths also were reported.
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran and chief executive of a pool service business in Spring Valley, was trying to breach a set of doors leading to the Speaker’s Lobby, a hallway that connects to the House chamber, when she was fatally shot by a Capitol police officer.
But Weisbecker told officers that she did not exist, as he knows everyone from the Ocean Beach area, and that when he asked around, none of his friends claimed to know her either, according to the complaint.
The comments echo theories that began to circulate online shortly after the shooting, as some dubbed her death a “false flag.” To many others in ultra-conservative circles, she has been hailed as a martyr.
Babbitt’s husband has sued police, seeking records related to the shooting.
FBI agents investigating Weisbecker collected other evidence placing him in Washington and at the Capitol, including plane travel, cellphone tower data, and searches of his cellphone and social media accounts, the complaint states.
Weisbecker’s frequent trips to Mexico — he told officers he visited friends there and was helping to design a ranch — left him open to scrutiny each time he returned to the United States. He grew increasingly belligerent as he continued to be directed to secondary inspection at the border and questioned about Jan. 6, calling officers “communist pig,” “fascist” and other derogatory names.
When CBP searched his car during his last border stop March 3, officers found a pellet gun without the orange safety tip, which closely resembled a real handgun, the complaint states. Weisbecker told CBP he bought it in Hawaii and used it to shoot roosters.
After his initial appearance in federal court Oct. 22, Weisbecker was allowed to remain out of custody on his own recognizance, agreeing not to travel to Mexico and to make all of his future court hearings.