Representative Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) suggested on Monday that Trump-supporting National Guardsmen should be vetted as potential security threats.
Thousands of National Guard troops are currently stationed in Washington, D.C., to secure Joe Biden’s inauguration. The guardsmen were deployed after a mob of supporters of President Trump rioted in the Capitol on January 6, forcing lawmakers to evacuate.
The FBI is concerned about a potential insider attack on Biden’s inauguration by guardsmen stationed in the Capital. The agency is working with the U.S. Army to vet all guardsmen deployed to protect the inauguration, though acting secretary of defense Chris Miller said Monday that there is “no intelligence indicating an insider threat.”
Cohen said that Trump-supporting guardsmen should be screened to prevent potential assassination attempts, comparing the threat to the assassinations of Egyptian prime minister Anwar Sadat and Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who were killed by members of their nations’ armies.
.@RepCohen on his concerns w/ the National Guard securing the Inauguration: “The [National] Guard is 90 some-odd percent male; and only about 20 percent of white males voted for Biden … there are probably not more than 25% of the people there protecting us that voted for Biden” pic.twitter.com/ofQfLuCw8I
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 18, 2021
“You’ve got to figure that in the Guard, which is predominantly more conservative” than the general population, “75 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.”
While Cohen clarified that he had no evidence that National Guardsmen were plotting to disrupt Biden’s inauguration, he added that Trump-supporting guardsmen would still be “suspect.”
“You draw a circle first, and the first circle is people who voted for Trump and not for Biden, as far as…the zone of people who you’d be suspect of. The suspect group is large,” Cohen said.
As part of the heightened security measures, the National Mall will be closed to the general public throughout this week. At least 10,000 National Guard troops will be deployed to secure the inauguration.