Twelve U.S. National Guard members have been removed from securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who made extremist statements in posts or texts about the Wednesday event, Pentagon officials said. There were no specific threats to Biden.
President Biden doesn’t trust his own military
Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.”
Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home but he said only two cases were for inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 were for other potential issues that may involve previous criminal behavior or other activities, but were not directly related to the inaugural event.
Their removal from the massive security presence at the nation’s capital comes as U.S. defense officials have been worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members following the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 by Trump supporters. The FBI made it a point to vet all 25,000 National Guard in town. Officials have said that the Pentagon has found no intelligence that would indicate an insider threat.
Rep. Steve Cohen implies that 75% of the National Guard are in the class of people who "may want to do something" at the inauguration.
Cohen is saying that National Guard troops who voted for Trump should automatically be suspected of being threats. pic.twitter.com/6ozID4y9ry
— America Rising (@AmericaRising) January 18, 2021
Radical Democrats target Trump supporters
The FBI has also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that right-wing fringe groups could pose as members of the National Guard, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter.
Neither Hokanson, nor Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman would provide details on the comments or texts made by the two Guard members. Speaking at a Pentagon press conference, Hokanson said one was identified by his chain of command and the other was identified through an anonymous tip.
“Much of the information,” Hoffman said, “is unrelated to the events taking place at the Capitol or to the concerns that many people have noted on extremism. These are vetting efforts that identify any questionable behavior in the past or any potential link to questionable behavior, not just related to extremism.”