The FBI says the man who authorities say is a leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, helped to organize a ring of other extremists and led them in the attack last month at the U.S. Capitol. He has held a top-secret security clearance for decades and previously worked for the FBI, his attorney said Monday.
Thomas Caldwell worked as a section chief for the FBI from 2009-2010 after retiring from the Navy.
He said he wasn’t even in the Capitol.
Holding top secret security clearance requires strict and expansive background checks. Caldwell also ran a consulting firm that did classified work for the U.S. government.
“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,” his lawyer Thomas Plofchan wrote.
Caldwell’s lawyer said he denies ever going into the Capitol and has “physical limitations” that would prevent the 66-year-old from forcing his way into any building.
Plofchan said his client retired as a lieutenant commander with the Navy and that he was a “100% disabled veteran.”
The FBI says he was in the hotel with Oathkeepers and communicated with the during the siege.
One message he received read, “Will probably call you tomorrow … mainly because … I like to know wtf plan is. You are the man COMMANDER.”
At one point during the siege, Caldwell received a message that said “all members are in the tunnels under the capital,” according to court documents. “Seal them in turn on gas,” it said.
Other messages 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,” according to court documents.
He is still locked up. The articles don’t say what the charges are.