Disturbing truth about Capitol riots 'leader' as Impeachment trial begins

Yahoo News Staff
·3-min read

A man who authorities say was a key figure behind the US Capitol riots last month is a former member of the FBI.

Thomas Caldwell, 66, who authorities believe holds a leadership role in the extremist group Oath Keepers, worked as section chief for the FBI from 2009 to 2010 after retiring from the Navy, his lawyer, Thomas Plofchan, wrote in a motion urging the judge to release him from jail while he awaits trial.

Caldwell has denied allegations he was ever a member of the far-right militia group.

His lawyer Thomas Thomas Plofchan has held a top-secret security clearance since 1979, which required multiple special background investigations.

Pro-Trump protesters and police clash on top of the Capitol building.
Pro-Trump protesters clash with police outside the US Capitol Building last month. Source: Getty Images

Caldwell also ran a consulting firm that did classified work for the US government, Mr Plofchan said.

“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,” Mr Plofchan wrote.

Mr Plofchan added Caldwell denies being at the riots and said he has a disability.

Caldwell’s lawyer said his client retired as a lieutenant commander with the Navy and that he was a “100 per cent disabled veteran.”

A member of the right-wing group Oath Keepers stands guard during a rally in front of the US Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC.
Thomas Caldwell's lawyer said he is not a member of right-wing group Oath Keepers. Pictured is a member of this group. Source: Getty Images

Caldwell suffered from complications related to a “service-connected injury,” including shoulder, back and knee issues, the lawyer said. In 2010, Caldwell had spinal surgery, which later failed and led to chronic spinal issues and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the court filing.

Caldwell is among roughly 200 people charged so far in the siege for federal crimes such as disrupting Congress, disorderly conduct and assault. A special group of prosecutors is weighing whether to bring sedition charges, officials have said.

Trump’s impeachment trial begins

The Senate has began former US president Donald Trump's second impeachment trial on a charge that he incited a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

Senators will engage in up to four hours of debate on the constitutionality of impeaching a former president.

Each side has two hours to make its case on Tuesday (local time), after which the Senate is expected to vote and reject the Republican efforts to dismiss the trial.

Protesters gather inside the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Protesters get inside the building. Many have since been arrested. Source: Getty Images

The Democrats only need a simple majority to move forward.

Opening arguments start on Wednesday (local time) and Trump's lawyers are expected to mount their defence starting on Friday.

Trump's attorneys say he is not guilty of the sole charge of "incitement of insurrection" and that his fiery words were just a figure of speech as he encouraged a rally crowd to "fight like hell".

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, DC.
Donald Trump's lawyers claim he did not incite the riots. Source: Getty Images

Prosecutors say he "has no good defence" and have promised to present new evidence.

Trump is the first former US president to be tried after leaving office.

The House impeached Trump for a second time on January 13, a week before Democrat Joe Biden was inaugurated.

with Reuters and The Associated Press

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.