Who is Thomas Caldwell? Alleged Oath Keepers leader from Capitol riots rumored to be 'retired FBI chief'

Who is Thomas Caldwell? Alleged Oath Keepers leader from Capitol riots rumored to be 'retired FBI chief'
Pro-Trump supporters storm the US Capitol on January 6 (Getty Images)

Thomas Caldwell, who authorities allege is a leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group and led them in the attack on the U.S. Capitol last month, reportedly held a top-secret security clearance for decades and even worked with the FBI. As per his attorney, Caldwell allegedly worked as a section chief for the FBI from 2009 to 2010 after retiring from the Navy.

Caldwell, 66, is one of three people authorities have described as prominent members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group. The members of the militia group were charged in January 2021 for plotting the attack on the Capitol building. Caldwell was arrested from his home in Berryville, Virginia, on January 19 and is currently in jail. Caldwell’s lawyer, Thomas Plofchan, wrote to the judge about his client’s previous work history with the FBI and has urged them to release him from the jail where he currently awaits trial.


The FBI has not yet issued any comments on Plofchan’s motion. 


Was US Capitol takeover planned on pro-Trump website? Threads discussed ways supporters could 'storm' building

Did Donald Trump fund Oath Keepers? 3 from far-right paramilitary group indicted over plot to storm Capitol


Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

Who is Thomas Caldwell?

As per Plofchan, Caldwell held a top-secret security clearance since 1979, which required multiple special background investigations. So far, Caldwell has denied being part of the Oath Keepers. He also denied ever going into the Capitol as he has “physical limitations” that prevent him from forcing his way into the Capitol. As per the reports, he 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,” Plofchan wrote.



Plofchan further added that his client retired as a lieutenant commander with the Navy, who previously suffered from complications related to a “service-connected injury”. As per Caldwell’s attorney, he had a spinal surgery in 2010, which led to chronic spinal issues and a diagnosis of PTSD.

Why is Thomas Caldwell arrested?

Caldwell was arrested for allegedly plotting the attack on the Capitol. As per the charging documents, he and others reportedly arranged hotel rooms in the Washington area in the days before the riot. Caldwell reportedly sent one Facebook message to another saying, “Will probably call you tomorrow… mainly because...I like to know wtf plan is. You are the man COMMANDER.” During the siege, Caldwell reportedly received a message that read, “all members are in the tunnels under the capital”.


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”.

Oath Keepers (Getty Images)


Who are the Oath Keepers?

According to reports, Oath Keepers is reportedly an anti-government militia organization composed of former military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath that all military and police will defend the Constitution against all enemies.

Oath Keepers was founded in 2009 by Elmer Stewart Rhodes – a former U.S. Army paratrooper and a former staffer for Rep. Cong. Ron Paul. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Oath Keepers reportedly urge military and law enforcement personnel to stop the New World Order’s plans. In 2016, the organization claimed that they have over 35,000 members.


Share this article:

 Thomas Caldwell Oath Keepers Group US Capitol Attack January far right militia leader washington dc