Twelve U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from the presidential inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups. A U.S. Army official and a senior U.S. intelligence official say the National Guard members have been found to have ties to fringe right group militias.
CNN confirmed that two of the members were from the Ohio National Guard. The members were pulled from their duty. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said on CNN that that the members being pulled were being pulled as a precaution, and they weren't necessarily in trouble.
They said there was no threat to President-elect Joe Biden.
The Army official and the intelligence official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity due to Defense Department media regulations. They did not say what fringe group the removed Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in.
According to reporting by Newsy, two Guardsmen who were removed from the security mission earlier in the day were pulled because of inappropriate texts and comments. The others were flagged for reasons unrelated to events going on in D.C.
With the 2 guardsmen announced earlier today their were inappropriate texts and comments that drew concern. Out of an abundance of caution they were removed and sent home. 1 was flagged within the command. The other 12 were flagged, but it's unrelated to events going on in DC.— Terace Garnier (@TeraceGarnier) January 19, 2021
Contacted by the AP on Tuesday, the National Guard Bureau referred questions to the U.S. Secret Service 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.”
About 25,000 National Guard members are in D.C. for Biden's inauguration Wednesday. 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 that shocked the nation.
The Secret Service told the AP on Monday it would not comment on if any National Guard members had been pulled from securing the inauguration for operational security reasons.