Twelve National Guardsmen have now been removed from the presidential inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online, officials say.
The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe group the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in.
They did say, however, that here was no threat to Joe Biden.
Neither the National Guard or Secret Service would comment on the removal of the Guardsmen.
Their removal from the massive security presence at the nation’s capital comes as the FBI worked to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops headed to the area for Biden’s inauguration amid concerns of insider threats in the wake of the Capitol riots.
It comes after the National Guard chief, General Daniel Hokanson, said earlier on Tuesday that the 25,000 armed troops protecting DC were ‘trained and ready for anything’ and he wasn’t concerned about the potential for insider threat.
The National Guard said troops from all 50 states are supporting law enforcement for the inauguration.
Gen. Hokanson said the vetting of his troops was standard practice but was heightened given the large number of Guardsman brought in to fortify DC in the wake of the insurrection at Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.
In addition to the 25,000 National Guardsman, the Pentagon also authorized 750 active-duty troops with expertise in chemical, biological, nuclear, radiological and explosive weapons to provide additional security in the capital.
‘We’ve done a lot of work. We’re making sure that our folks are trained and ready for anything they’re going to be asked to do. Our folks are always trained in deescalation techniques,’ Gen Hokanson told NBC’s Today on Tuesday.
Members of the National Guard patrol near the Capitol building on Tuesday morning. Two National Guardsman are now being removed from the inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties to fringe right group militias after the Guard’s chief said he wasn’t concerned about the potential for insider threats
National Guard troops prepare riot shields before entering a security perimeter near the Washington Monument on Tuesday morning
National Guard troops stand guard in Downtown Washington, DC on Tuesday – just one day out from the inauguration
Security was at a high around DC on Tuesday – just one day before President Biden’s Inauguration
He said the decision to arm his troops during the inauguration was made by the Secret Service amid the ongoing threats.
National Guard General Daniel Hokanson said the 25,000 armed troops that are now protecting Washington DC are ‘trained and ready for anything’
Gen Hokanson said he wasn’t concerned about the potential for an insider attack from service members involved in securing the inauguration after defense officials raised concerns.
‘It’s not a threat for me, I’m not concerned about that at all. If you look at our National Guardsman, we vet them throughout the process. We don’t allow extremism of any type in our organization,’ he said.
‘As we look at this as a national special security event… this type of vetting is standard.’
Gen Hokanson has been meeting with Guard troops as they arrive in DC and as they gather downtown. He said he believes there are good processes in place to identify any potential threats.
It comes after Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press that officials are conscious of the potential threat and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches.
So far, however, he and other leaders say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues that they were aware of.
‘We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,’ McCarthy said.
He said Guard members are also getting training on how to identify potential insider threats.
Armed troops patrolled the streets of DC on Tuesday as security strengthened even more on Trump’s last day in office
Hundreds of National Guardsmen were out patrolling the streets of DC on Tuesday morning
Members of the National Guard gather near the Capitol building a day out from Biden’s inauguration
The FBI is vetting all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event
National Guardsman manned a checkpoint near the White House on Monday night
Armed National Guard troops stand guard in Downtown Washington on Tuesday
Attempts to fortify Washington have been ongoing ever since the January 6 insurrection at Capitol with the city now an armed fortress fenced off with razor wire
The Secret Service has incorporated the term ‘Green Zone’ into its inauguration security maps with the area pictured above on lockdown until after the inaguration
About 25,000 members of the National Guard are streaming into Washington from across the country – at least two and a half times the number for previous inaugurals.
While the military routinely reviews service members for extremist connections, the FBI screening is in addition to any previous monitoring.
As security continues to intensify in DC ahead of the inauguration, defense officials told Politico that 750 active-duty troops had been deployed this week to the capital.
Those personnel are experts in handling chemical and nuclear weapons, as well as experience disposing of explosives.
Among the active-duty personnel are medical teams trained in responding to trauma.
It comes as the Capitol complex temporarily locked down on Monday during an inauguration rehearsal after a fire in a homeless encampment roughly a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns in the already on-edge city.
Military personnel and staffers could be seen running from the temporary seating on the Capitol Building’s West Front as an evacuation warning played in the background.
Law enforcement officials later confirmed there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration.
About 25,000 members of the National Guard are streaming into Washington from across the country – at least two and a half times the number for previous inaugurals
A street leading to the White House is blocked by police and security fencing ahead of the inauguration
In addition to the 25,000 National Guardsman, the Pentagon also authorized 750 active-duty troops to provide additional security
National Guard members get instructions as others stand guard near the White House on Monday
The evacuation of some participants and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution.
But the fast decision to lock down underscores the fear that has gripped Washington since the deadly January 6 insurrection at the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.
Attempts to fortify Washington have been ongoing ever since with the city now an armed fortress fenced off with razor wire.
Armed protests planned for this past weekend around the country were mostly a bust, but anxiety is still skyrocketing.
The major security concern for the inauguration is an attack by armed groups of individuals, as well as planted explosives and other devices.
McCarthy said intelligence reports suggest that groups are organizing armed rallies leading up to Inauguration Day and possibly after that.
The Capitol complex temporarily locked down on Monday during an inauguration rehearsal after a fire in a homeless encampment roughly a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns in the already on-edge city
Law enforcement officials later confirmed there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration