Two U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from the security detail for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after the troops deployed to Washington D.C. were vetted for extremist ideologies.
The Associated Press reports that the two National Guard members were found to have ties to “fringe right-group militias,” according to U.S. Army and intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
There is no plot against Biden or members of Congress reported.
Reached for comment by the AP, the National Guard Bureau referred reporters to the U.S. Secret Service, which said, “Due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration.”
After the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, law enforcement at the local and federal levels was put on high alert to ensure that President-elect Biden is inaugurated peacefully. Approximately 25,000 U.S. National Guard troops will be deployed in the nation’s capital Wednesday for the inauguration. However, some lawmakers have raised concerns that among these Guard members may be supporters of President Trump who might, in the words of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), “want to do something.”
Last week, a senior defense official speaking anonymously briefed reporters on law enforcement efforts to identify potential risks among the guardsmen stationed in D.C.
“We know that some groups actively attempt to recruit our personnel into their cause or actually encourage their members to join the military for the purpose of acquiring skills and experience in our military force,” the official reportedly said.
“We recognize that those skills are prized by some of these groups, not only for the capability it offers them, but it also brings legitimacy in their mind to their cause. The fact that they can say they have former military personnel that align with their extremist and violent extremist views. So this clearly is of great concern to us.”
The National Guard, Army, Secret Service, and FBI jointly coordinated to vet the 25,000 National Guard members from 44 states for extremist ideologies or ties to radical militia groups.
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said Monday that there is no evidence of an insider plot to disrupt the inauguration or attack Biden or members of Congress.
“While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” Miller said in a statement.
Some critics have spoken out against the vetting, which they see as disrespectful to service members.
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott on Tuesday tweeted, “This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard.”
“No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard,” he added. “I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC. I’ll never do it again if they are disrespected like this.”
This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard.
No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of th… https://t.co/Bt06g7BWV3
— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott)1611018197.0
Miller said Monday that the vetting taking place is typical for “significant security events.”
“This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events. However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique.”