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Dozen troops removed amid inauguration vetting

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As thousands of National Guard troops flood Washington, DC ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Pentagon is working feverishly to ensure that the troops themselves are not a security risk.

A dozen members of the U.S. National Guard have been removed from duty helping secure the inauguration after vetting, which included screening for potential ties to right-wing extremism, Pentagon officials said on Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman said the vetting went beyond ties to extremist groups. One Guard member was removed from duty after troubling text messages and another had been reported to a tip line.

Army General Daniel Hokanson:

“All I would say with those two individuals - it was inappropriate comments or texts that were put out there. And as we stated out of an abundance of caution we want to make sure there’s no issues at all - that those get properly looked into.”

Downtown Washington, DC, has been transformed into an armed fortress - fenced off and surrounded by 25,000 National Guard troops, Tuesday.

The level of precaution this year is unprecedented.

People are restricted from entering a vast area the Secret Service is calling the ‘Green Zone.’

The National Mall - which during inaugurations of the past could host over a million spectators - this year will be closed to the public due to threats of violence from groups like those who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Another unprecedented element of this year’s festivities is that the outgoing President won’t be in attendance. President Donald Trump will skip Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.

And despite being welcomed to the White House by the Obamas four years ago, Trump and his wife Melania are not expected to extend the same courtesy to the incoming first family.

Instead, Trump is planning to leave for his Mar-a-Lago resort, Wednesday morning, right before the pageantry begins.

When Biden is sworn in, he will do so on the Capitol steps - still showing its wounds of the riot earlier this month.

And he - unlike the many before him - will not be in front of a sea of supporters, but in front of nearly 200,000 flags, set up on the huge stretch of grass, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol dome, to represent the thousands who could not attend.

Video Transcript

- As thousands of National Guard troops flood Washington DC ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's Inauguration, the Pentagon is working feverishly to ensure the troops themselves are not a security risk. A dozen members of the US National Guard have been removed from duty helping secure the Inauguration after vetting, which included screening for potential ties to right-wing extremism, Pentagon officials said on Tuesday. A Pentagon spokesman said the vetting went beyond ties to extremist groups. One Guard member was removed from duty after troubling text messages and another had been reported to a tip line. Army General Daniel Hokanson.

DANIEL HOKANSON: All I would say with-- with those two individuals-- it was inappropriate comments or texts that were put out there. And, as we stated, just out of an abundance of caution, we want to make sure that there's no issues at all and that those properly get looked into.

- Downtown Washington DC has been transformed into an armed fortress, fenced off and surrounded by 25,000 National Guard troops Tuesday. The level of precaution this year is unprecedented. People are restricted from entering a vast area the Secret Service is calling the Green Zone. The National Mall, which during inaugurations of the past could host over a million spectators, this year will be closed to the public due to threats of violence, from groups like those who attacked the US Capitol on January 6th.

Another unprecedented element of this year's festivities is that the outgoing president won't be in attendance. President Donald Trump will skip Biden's swearing-in ceremony. And despite being welcomed to the White House by the Obamas four years ago--

BARACK OBAMA: It's so nice to see you.

- --Trump and his wife, Melania, are not expected to extend the same courtesy to the incoming first family. Instead, Trump is planning to leave for his Mar-a-Lago resort Wednesday morning, right before the pageantry begins. When Biden is sworn in, he will do so on the Capitol steps, still showing its wounds of the riot earlier this month. And he, unlike the many before him, will not be in front of a sea of supporters, but in front of nearly 200,000 flags set up on a huge stretch of grass between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol Dome to represent the thousands who could not attend.