Thomas Caldwell, a Virginia veteran, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with other members of the extremist Oath Keepers to attack the Capitol as the results of the 2020 presidential election were being certified. Prosecutors have previously claimed that members of the right-wing extremist group planned for a "Quick Reaction Force," known as a QRF, in Virginia across the river from Washington, DC, if reinforcements were needed during the Capitol assault.
But Caldwell's lawyer David Fisher pushed back on those claims Thursday. He said Caldwell and other Oath Keepers were afraid of the left-wing extremist collective Antifa, and wanted a rapid response force to protect the pro-Trump rally. "The 'QRF' was nothing but a contingency plan hatched up by retired military guys strategizing in the event that Antifa launched a coordinated attack against rally-goers," Fischer wrote. "...Ironically, had the US Capitol Police leadership engaged in the level of strategic planning that Caldwell and others did, the Capitol would have never been breached." The backhanded insult comes as Caldwell is trying to get released from jail. A federal judge previously ruled that he was too dangerous to release, but Caldwell is challenging that decision. In the new filings, his lawyer portrayed him as a frail senior citizen with medical conditions that made it difficult for him to stand up for many hours during the insurrection. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday in Washington. Several of Caldwell's friends and fellow veterans submitted letters to the judge advocating for his release. They called him a "great patriot" and pointed out that he held a top security clearance for many years. One friend baselessly questioned if he could have done what he is accused of doing, given his disabilities. Another said his rhetoric doesn't match his actions. "His words are sharp but his blades are dull," one friend told the judge.