National Guard Members With 'Questionable' Behavior Removed From Inauguration Duty

by Julie Scagell
Stefani Reynolds/Getty

The FBI did not say what fringe group the Guard members belonged to

A dozen U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from security detail for Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration after questionable behavior was discovered by authorities ranging from ties to fringe right-group militias and questionable social media posts, a U.S. Army official confirmed.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it would be vetting all 25,000 National Guard troops who were stationed in Washington, D.C. this week after the violent insurrection in the Capitol was found to have insider military ties.

“I’m not concerned as a large part of our organization, if you look at 25,000, we’ve had 12 identified and some of those they are just looking into, it may be unrelated to this, but we want to make sure out of an abundance of caution as I stated earlier that we do the right thing until that gets cleared up,” Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson told reporters.

”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an interview with The Associated Press.

No plot against Biden has been found.

McCarthy also noted that he and other military leaders went through a three-hour security drill in preparation for Biden’s inauguration, and that Guard members are also getting training on how to identify potential threats coming from inside their detail. According to McCarthy, service members from across the military were at the rally which led to the insurrection, but it’s not clear yet how many participated in it.

The vetting itself consists, in part, of running names through databases and watchlists maintained by the FBI to see if anything about their background comes up including involvement in prior investigations or terrorism-related activities. The bulk of the Guard members will be armed during the inauguration event.

The National Guard Bureau referred questions to the U.S. Secret Service when speaking to the AP, and said, “Due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration.”

This isn’t the first time a Guard member has been removed over safety concerns. Over the summer, an Ohio National Guard member was removed from a mission in Washington, D.C., after the FBI found they’d expressed white supremacist ideology on the internet. The vetting for the inauguration, however, remains top of mind given the recent events at the Capitol.

“This is a national priority. We have to be successful as an institution,” said McCarthy. “We want to send the message to everyone in the United States and for the rest of the world that we can do this safely and peacefully.”

With just 24 hours until Inauguration Day, the troops are present to protect the building and those inside of it but we also must ensure they aren’t taking part in any violent acts themselves.