After a pro-Trump mob laid siege to the Capitol on January 6, 25,000 National Guard troops have flooded into Washington D.C. to ensure that similar violence doesn’t break out at President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
But that may present its own threat.
According to the Associated Press, the FBI will vet all 25,000 Guard troops on top of the routine screening the military already does to identify members who have extremist connections.
“We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told AP.
Suspicions may be heightened after images of Capitol Police officers posing for selfies with the insurrectionists, or escorting them down the stairs, were widely shared online after the January 6 attack. Two of those officers have been suspended, and several others are under investigation, according to CNN. An off-duty guardsman from Virginia who allegedly participated in the riot has also been arrested.
Guardsmen have become a ubiquitous sight in downtown D.C., the streets of which are otherwise eerily quiet and fairly empty. Intersections are blocked by trucks and military vehicles, and streets leading to the National Mall cut off by big tented checkpoints. Some have already been arrested as they tried to get past the checkpoints, including a Virginia man packing a gun and, per his arrest report, over 500 rounds of ammunition.
Biden’s inauguration, already planned to be scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been disrupted by the security threats. A Sunday rehearsal was postponed and a Monday ride on his famously preferred mode of transportation, Amtrak, from Wilmington to Washington D.C. was cancelled, according to Politico.