Suspected Right-Wing Leader Charged In Capitol Riot Worked For FBI, Lawyer Says

by : Julia Banim on :
Suspected Right-Wing Leader Charged In Capitol Riot Worked For FBI, Lawyer SaysPA Images

A suspected leader within the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, who allegedly helped lead extremists during the Capitol riots, had previously worked for the FBI.

Thomas Caldwell, who had reportedly held a top-secret security clearance for decades, worked as a section chief in the FBI from 2009 to 2010 following his retirement from the Navy.


This is according to his attorney, Thomas Plofchan, who urged the judge to release the 66-year-old man from jail while he awaits trial, in a motion filed Monday, February 8.

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Plofchan claims that Caldwell, who denies being a member of the Oath Keepers, has had security clearance since 1979, the nature of which required him to undergo various special background investigations. He also ran a consulting firm that carried out classified work for the US government, TIME reports.

Plofchan said:


He has been vetted and found numerous times as a person worthy of the trust and confidence of the United States government, as indicated by granting him Top Secret clearances.

Plofchan went on to deny Caldwell had ever gone into the Capitol during the riots, detailing the ‘physical limitations’ the defendant faces that would stop him from forcing his way inside the building.

Caldwell retired as a lieutenant commander with the US Navy, and Plofchan has described him as being a ‘100% disabled veteran’, having suffered complications related to a ‘service-connected injury’. This includes issues with his shoulder, back and knee.

According to the court filing, Caldwell underwent spinal surgery in 2010, which later failed and resulted in chronic spinal issues and a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis.

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Caldwell is one of three suspected Oath Keepers group members who have been charged with conspiracy and accused of planning the attack on the Capitol in advance. Since his January 19 arrest, Caldwell has been under house arrest at his home in Berryville, Virginia. So far, around 200 people have been charged in connection to the deadly riot.

Charging documents reveal messages were exchanged between Caldwell and the other suspects about arranging hotel rooms in DC in the days leading up to the Capitol riots.

In one Facebook message addressed to Caldwell, one of the other suspects reportedly writes, ‘Will probably call you tomorrow … mainly because … I like to know wtf plan is. You are the man COMMANDER’.


The Oath Keepers reportedly communicated during the siege about the location of the lawmakers. At one point, Caldwell received a message which read, ‘all members are in the tunnels under the capital. […] Seal them in turn on gas’, while another read: ‘Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down” and “go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps.’

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Capitol riot, FBI, Now, Riots, US, washington


Time and 1 other
  1. Time

    A Man Charged in the U.S. Capitol Riot Worked for the FBI, His Lawyer Says

  2. Politico

    Man charged in Capitol riot worked for FBI, lawyer says