National Guardsmen removed from U.S. Capitol ahead of inauguration

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Chief of the National Guard Bureau announced Tuesday that 12 Guardsmen have been removed from the U.S. Capitol ahead of the presidential inauguration, in part because of suspected far-right extremist ties. 

Gen. Daniel Hokanson told reporters that at least two of the security officials deployed to protect the presidential inauguration were removed from duty because of “inappropriate comments or texts.”

One of the Guardsman was reportedly flagged through the chain of command, while another individual was identified through an anonymous tip on a law enforcement tip-line.

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Hokanson did not explain what constituted “inappropriate” language, but said the removal of 12 Guardsmen was “out of an abundance of caution.”  

“We’ve had 12 identified and some of those, they’re just looking into,” Hokanson said Tuesday, adding that their questionable behavior could be completely unrelated to extremist connections.  “But we want to make sure out of an abundance of caution…that we do the right thing,” he added.

The Department of Defense has deployed 25,000 National Guard troops to Washington, D.C. to aid in securing the capital during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, following the attacks earlier this month by pro-Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol building, which left five dead.

While 21,500 National Guard personnel have been stationed throughout the U.S. capital as of Monday, Fox News confirmed an additional 2,750 active duty troops will support the security of the event.

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Though the presence of over 20,000 National Guard in D.C. for Inauguration Day is unusual, roughly 750 of the active duty troops will serve in traditional asset support roles, capable of extracting chemical, biological, and explosive devices in case of an emergency.

There will also be trauma support officials and medical personnel – all standard precautions for an event of this magnitude officials told Fox News.

“As is normal for military support to large security events, the Department will vet National Guardsmen who are in Washington, D.C.,” Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said Monday before he announced that the FBI would be vetting all security personnel in the U.S. capital. “While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital.”

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Miller said that vetting by law enforcement of security officials was not also an atypical procedure for “significant security events,” but noted that unique scope of the task in the number of National Guardsmen called for Wednesday’s event. 

Jennifer Griffin and Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.

 

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