Man Charged in Capitol Riot Worked for FBI and Had Security Clearance, Attorney Says

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 9, 2021

The lawyer for a man who was charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots said the defendant has held a top-secret security clearance for decades and previously worked for the FBI.

Thomas Caldwell, who authorities believe has a leadership role in the Oath Keepers group, worked as a section chief for the federal law enforcement agency from 2009 to 2010 after he retired from the U.S. Navy, said his lawyer in a court motion.

Caldwell has denied being a part of the Oath Keepers, 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.

His lawyer, according to court documents, said Caldwell, 66, denies he ever went to the Capitol and has “physical limitations” that prevent him from breaching a building. “Moving, sitting for extended periods of time, lifting, carrying, and other physical activities are extremely painful and Caldwell is limited in his ability to engage in them,” the motion added.

“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.

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Rubble is seen near a breached entrance a day after protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, in Washington on Jan. 7, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Separately, the attorney claimed that witnesses “will testify that [Caldwell] never entered the U.S. Capitol Building and that his physical limitations would have prevented him from forcibly entering any building or storming past any barrier.”

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

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

“Us storming the castle,” Caldwell also allegedly said at one point, according to the complaint. “Please share. Sharon was right with me! I am such an instigator!”

So far, according to media reports, about 200 people have been charged in the Capitol riot. Charges include disrupting Congress, disorderly conduct, and assault, and prosecutors have said they are considering bringing sedition charges.