Two members of the National Guard have been removed from Wednesday's presidential inauguration over possible ties to extremist groups, officials said. The FBI has been working to vet the 25,000 troops standing guard in the Washington, D.C., area.
At a Pentagon briefing Tuesday, General Dan Hokanson, the National Guard chief, said the two members made "inappropriate comments or texts" and were sent home "out of an abundance of caution." Hokanson said one member was flagged through a tip line and one was reported by other soldiers.
Ten others were also removed from duty for a "number of different reasons" unrelated to extremism, Hokanson said. He did not elaborate.
"We are not taking any chances," said Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesperson. "If there is any reason that somebody's name is brought to the attention of the command, they are being removed from the line."
An investigation will determine whether further action — such as expulsion from the Guard — is taken against the two soldiers.
U.S. intelligence officials have warned of the possibility of more violence following the deadly attack on the Capitol on January 6. Five people died during the attack, including a woman who was fatally shot by police.
Investigators have charged at least 100 people with federal crimes. Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general, said the FBI has received nearly 200,000 tips about people who were allegedly involved in the violence.
"We know there's a problem with white supremacists and violent extremists in the military, said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, "That's why I've asked for an inspector general investigation."
The Associated Press first reported the removal of two troops due to possible extremist ties.
David Martin, Jeff Pegues and Paulina Smolinski contributed reporting.
First published on January 19, 2021 / 5:33 PM
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