The lawyer for a prominent leader of a white supremacist militia group, who participated in the Jan. 6 domestic attack on Congress, said he has previously worked for the FBI and other U.S. government agencies, according to The Washington Post.
Navy veteran Thomas Caldwell was arrested and indicted on Jan. 27 after the FBI found messages and photos showing he was intimately involved in leading the attack on the Capitol Building and specifically sought to target members of Congress as a leader of the Oath Keepers militia group.
On Caldwell’s phone, the FBI found messages that said, “all members are in the tunnels under the capital. Seal them in turn on gas,” about the members of Congress fleeing the building as supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked with guns, pipe bombs and zip-tie handcuffs.
Another message said, “Tom all legislators are down in the tunnels three floors down” and “go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps.”
The F.B.I. believes Thomas Caldwell is a leader in the Oath Keepers, sometimes referred to as “Commander Tom.” Here’s him posing for a photo at a mock White House rostrum during the CPAC event in 2019. pic.twitter.com/YxtBvzSlke
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) January 20, 2021
But in a response to the case file, the FBI released, his lawyer Thomas Plofchan said Caldwell deserved to be released due to his long time serving in the Navy, his work with the FBI and because he had “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.”
His lawyer went on to explain Caldwell’s professional accolades as reasoning for release.
“[Caldwell] has held a Top Secret Security Clearance since 1979 and has undergone multiple Special Background Investigations in support of his clearances. After retiring from the Navy, he worked as a section chief for the Federal Bureau of Investigations from 2009-2010 as a GS-12,” Plofchan wrote.
“He also formed and operated a consulting firm performing work, often classified, for U.S. government customers including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Personnel Command,” he added.
In a new motion for bond, alleged Oath Keeper commander Thomas E. Caldwell claims he did classified contracting work for the government and even worked as an FBI section chief. The FBI has not responded to this, and GS-12 would be way below the expected pay grade for that. pic.twitter.com/DK73IqDAoy
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) February 9, 2021
While some disputed Plofchan’s statements because of discrepancies in Caldwell’s pay rate while working for the FBI, the allegation is yet another person associated with white supremacist militia groups who also had deep ties to the FBI.
The FBI has not released a statement on why former staff members or those associated with the government agency are now working as top-level members of white supremacist militias.
In the court filing from the FBI, Caldwell is repeatedly referred to as “Commander” or “Commander Tom” by members of the Oath Keepers militia and Facebook messages show he organized hotels for the Jan. 6 attackers before leading a group into the Capitol Building.
Multiple members of the Oath Keepers have been arrested and charged for the attack on the Capitol Building that led to five deaths and the destruction of the building. Along with the Proud Boys, they were part of a much more organized, heavily armed segment of the riot that had specific goals for the attack, including taking members of Congress hostage.
Plofchan actually addressed the evidence showing he was a leader of the Oath Keepers, first denying that Caldwell was a member and then saying it was against the law for anyone to know if he actually was a member.
“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,” Plofchan wrote.
According to The Associated Press, Caldwell was a Navy intelligence officer for 19 years before opening up his own consultancy company that worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Personnel Command.
The 65-year-old was charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property and entering a restricted building alongside two other people, according to a release from the Justice Department.
According to court documents, Caldwell was organizing logistics and planning the attack on Jan. 6 since November.
“THIS IS OUR CALL TO ACTION, FREINDS! SEE YOU ON THE 6TH IN WASHINGTON, D.C. ALONG WITH 2 MILLION OTHER LIKE-MINDED PATRIOTS,” Caldwell wrote on December 31 in a post on Facebook.
“It begins for real Jan. 5 and [Jan.] 6 on Washington, D.C., when we mobilize in the streets. Let them try to certify some crud on capitol hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. This kettle is set to boil…” Caldwell wrote in another post on Jan. 2.
The Washington Post noted that many of the country’s law enforcement agencies have had to review their staff members after dozens of cops, soldiers and officers were implicated in the attack on Congress. Even the Pentagon has ordered all of the branches of the military to put resources toward addressing the connections between soldiers and white supremacist terror groups.
Michael German, a former FBI agent who now works for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, told The Washington Post that the recent revelations confirm what many have long said about the country’s law enforcement officers.
“The presence of law enforcement officers in the riot reinforces and substantiates the greatest fears many in the public had in the nature of law enforcement in the United States. It’s incumbent on the Justice Department, if it wants to restore that confidence, to act quickly,” German said.