NBC News- 12 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 their comments to the attention of Guard officers. Another was pulled out after an anonymous tip, he said.
The FBI has been screening all servicemembers involved with President-elect Joe Biden's imminent inauguration amid growing security concerns.
Hoffman declined to say what the nature of the comments was or whether the comments or messages related to far-right or similar extremist groups.
The other 10 troops were removed due to 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.
It was too early to say if the 12 troops removed 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.”