Two members of the National Guard who were set to provide security for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday have reportedly been removed due to ties to far-right groups.
The two Guard members, whose names, ranks, and units have not been disclosed, were reportedly associated with far-right militias, the AP reported Tuesday, citing anonymous officials from the Army and U.S. intelligence. The report was confirmed by ABC News.
The Secret Service, which is leading the coordination of inauguration security, did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment.
In a statement to VICE News, the Department of Defense said it was “aware of the reports, but due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration.”
The removal of the two Guards comes as the FBI and other agencies are reportedly vetting the roughly 25,000 Guard members on the inauguration security mission. Biden’s inauguration, which will come exactly two weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of his election win, will see the largest deployment of American troops in the nation’s capital since the Civil War.
The Secret Service has declined to say how the National Guard is being vetted.
“In order to maintain critical operational security surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, the U.S. Secret Service and our law enforcement partners will not be commenting on the means and methods used to conduct the agency mission, inclusive of protective intelligence matters,” the Secret Service told VICE News in a statement Monday.
At least 22 current or former military members or cops have been identified by the AP as among the people who were at or near the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Those arrested following the siege at the Capitol included Rocky Mount (Virginia) cop and Virginia National Guard corporal Jacob Fracker, Naval contractor and Army reservist Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, and former Marine and Proud Boy Dominic Pezzolla.
“There is a crisis issue: the rise of extremism and white supremacy in the ranks,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, a retired Army officer, told Politico last week. “That has been fueled by President [Donald] Trump, unfortunately. So that has to be dealt with right away and unequivocally. That’s top of the list.”