Judge Orders Release of Man Charged in Capitol Breach Who Previously Worked for FBI

March 12, 2021 Updated: March 12, 2021

Alleged Oath Keepers member Thomas Caldwell, who was charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol breach and was previously a section chief for the FBI, was granted a pretrial release from jail by a Washington judge on Friday.

Caldwell was ordered by Judge Amit Mehta to be under strict home confinement pending trial. Mehta took into account a back injury that Caldwell, 65, had suffered. Caldwell claimed to be too disabled to partake in the breach or to be a flight risk.

Mehta ultimately concluded that the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not fully show Caldwell’s direct role in planning the violence or breaching the Capitol during the Joint Session of Congress.

“There is an absence of direct evidence, at least, of planning by Caldwell to enter the Capitol building … And ultimately, he did not enter the building,” Mehta said, reported Politico, adding that Caldwell also cannot have access to computers or the internet.

Caldwell, the judge said, also cannot have contact with anyone affiliated with the Jan. 6 investigation.

Previously, court documents revealed that Caldwell had worked for the FBI and held a top-secret security clearance for several decades.

Caldwell has also denied being a part of the Oath Keepers, a militia group, said attorney Thomas Plofchan.

“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 wrote in a motion in early February.

“Caldwell is not a member of the organization, nor has he ever been a member of the organization, and if he were, such membership would be protected activity under the First Amendment,” wrote Plofchan, who added that the government hasn’t provided a photo or video that shows Caldwell in the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

The DOJ alleged that Caldwell sent Facebook messages coordinating with alleged members of the Oath Keepers militia group.

Charging documents allegedly show messages between Caldwell and others about arranging hotel rooms in the Washington area before Jan. 6. One Facebook message reads, “Will probably call you tomorrow … mainly because … I like to know wtf plan is. You are the man COMMANDER,” according to the complaint.

The DOJ on Friday, meanwhile, said in court documents that another 100 people are expected to be charged in connection to the Jan. 6 incident. So far, more than 300 have been charged.

“The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence,” prosecutors wrote in their filing (pdf) while requesting a 60-day delay in a case against several alleged Oath Keepers members who are charged in connection to the incident.