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12 National Guard members removed from inauguration duty, including two for 'inappropriate' comments

The FBI has been screening all service members involved with the inauguration amid growing security concerns.
A member of the National Guard stops vehicles near the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.Angela Weiss / AFP - Getty Images

Twelve National Guard members were removed from inauguration duty, including two for “inappropriate” comments or texts, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters in a phone briefing Tuesday.

“We have two individuals that were identified as making inappropriate comments or texts,” said spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.

One was removed after fellow troops brought the member's comments to the attention of guard officers. Another was pulled out after an anonymous tip, he said.

The FBI has been screening all service members involved with President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday amid growing security concerns.

Hoffman declined to say what the nature of the comments were or whether the comments or messages related to far-right or similar extremist groups.

“Let me be clear: Extremism is not tolerated in any branch of the U.S. military," said Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The other 10 members were removed because of questions raised in security vetting conducted by the FBI, including a review of their criminal records and other information. As a precaution, they were pulled out during the vetting process “for a number of different reasons,” Hoffman said.

U.S. law enforcement officials and military leaders were “looking back at anything that could potentially flag in a criminal history check, anything that could come up in a database that’s being scrubbed by our partners,” he said.

Hokanson said he was not concerned about the overall force helping to provide security for the inauguration, as only 12 members had been removed from the mission as a precautionary step out of 25,000.

It was too early to say if the 12 people would be subject to disciplinary action or further investigation by law enforcement agencies, he said.

“We’re not taking any chances,” Hoffman said. “Any reason that somebody’s name is brought to the chain of command, they’re being removed from the line."

But he said that “we’re not saying all 12 have ties ... to extremists or militias. That is not correct.”

Hoffman said the military was working closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure a safe and secure inauguration takes place on Wednesday.

“The American people should have confidence in the National Guard, they should have confidence in the law enforcement team that are planning for this inauguration,” Hoffman said.