A federal judge on Tuesday upheld two federal convictions against a Navy veteran and Oath Keeper associate accused of helping the far-right group stash weapons outside Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.
In November, Thomas Caldwell – who was tried along with leaders of the Oath Keepers Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs – was convicted of obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with documents. A jury, however, acquitted him of all the conspiracy charges he faced, including seditious conspiracy.
During a hearing Tuesday morning, Judge Amit Mehta rejected arguments from Caldwell that a jury did not have sufficient evidence to conclude he was guilty of the two counts. As part of his ruling, Mehta found that Caldwell supported Oath Keeper members in obstructing Congress on January 6, noting that Caldwell was ready to support the organization and helped plan the armed quick reaction force in Virginia.
“Staging materials to support the conduct on January 6 all could have been considered by the jury … to enable President (Donald) Trump to remain in office as the ultimate, unlawful objective,” Mehta said.
Mehta pointed to messages Caldwell sent through an encrypted app about a “much bigger op where we might have to roll into town to save the republic.” The messages, Mehta said, “are important in that a jury could have found … that Mr. Caldwell was thinking about a much bigger op that might include violence if called upon.”
Mehta also said there was sufficient evidence that Caldwell deleted messages after the riot unfolded in an effort to obstruct prosecutors’ investigation into the riot.
During the weekslong trial, prosecutors argued that Caldwell, though not a member of the Oath Keepers himself, led the effort to organize the quick reaction force so that the far-right group could quickly transport firearms into Washington, DC, on January 6 should they decide it was necessary.
Caldwell went as far as to scope out DC in reconnaissance missions, prosecutors said, though Caldwell testified he was looking to see where porta-potties would be set up around the rally space.
On January 6, Caldwell was captured on video just outside the Capitol cheering and celebrating as the assault was ongoing.
In his own testimony, Caldwell told jurors that he was being “a little bit of a goof” when, on January 6, he claimed to know where then-Vice President Mike Pence lived and made derogatory comments about then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Mehta said that Caldwell’s own actions that day at the Capitol supported his conviction by a jury of obstructing an official proceeding. Caldwell was captured on video saying, “We are surging forward” and “doors breached,” Mehta noted.
Caldwell told the jury he “didn’t mean” messages he sent just weeks before January 6, hoping that Trump would “start rounding up and executing traitors.”
He has not yet been sentenced.