Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday slammed the FBI’s vetting of National Guard members, including those from his state, who are being called to Washington, D.C. to provide security for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
“This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard. No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard,” Abbott wrote in a tweet.
The Republican governor said he has authorized more than 1,000 Texas National Guard members to be deployed to the nation’s capital.
“I’ll never do it again if they are disrespected like this,” Abbott said.
About 25,000 National Guard troops from various states have been sent to Washington as officials in the city work to ensure the inauguration will be secure in the wake of the deadly riot at the Capitol earlier this month. The number of troops deployed in D.C. this week is more than triple the number of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
The FBI is vetting service members who will be providing security for the inauguration due to defense officials’ concerns about a potential insider attack this week.
Two Army National Guard members were removed Tuesday from the security operation to secure President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after they were found to have ties to fringe right group militias, although no plot against Biden was uncovered.
Representative Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, suggested Monday that National Guard members who support President Trump are “suspect” and “might want to do something” to Biden. He said that service members should be vetted to prevent potential security threats including assassination attempts.
“You’ve got to figure that in the Guard, which is predominantly more conservative. Seventy-five percent are in the class that would be in the large class of folks who might want to do something,” Cohen said. “There were military people and police who took oaths to defend the Constitution…who didn’t do it and were in the insurrection.”
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said Monday that there is “no intelligence indicating an insider threat.”
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that members of the military were at President Trump’s rally in front of the White House just before the Capitol riot. He warned military officers to be aware of potential issues among service members but said that they have seen no evidence of threats so far.
“Any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law,” the Army said in a statement.
Meanwhile, an FBI memo sent last week to law enforcement agencies across the country warned of plans for armed protests at the capitals of all 50 states as well as Washington D.C. in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration.
Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, exactly two weeks after a group of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, forcing their way past security and into the halls of Congress. The violence ended with five dead.
The pro-Trump mob headed to the Capitol after attending a rally in front of the White House during which President Trump delivered remarks, encouraging his supporters to “fight much harder.”