US Secret Service screening inauguration troops for riot sympathisers

National Guard members under investigation as mob member claims GOP lawmakers aided Capitol siege

National Guard patrol outside the Capitol building.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The US army and secret service are carrying out background checks on National Guard troops in a bid to weed out extremist sympathisers ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Thousands of part-time soldiers are being sent to Washington D.C. to stand guard as the new president is sworn in next Wednesday. But fears that active-duty and reserve military personnel may have been involved in the storming of the Capitol last week have triggered a mass screening programme.

“Any hint that a national guardsman has political sympathies for the rioters” is likely to result in their immediate withdrawal from the force, The Times reports.

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“The army is working with the secret service to determine which service members supporting the national special security event for the inauguration require additional background screening,” a military spokesperson confirmed in a statement.

Fears over security have grown after a rioter claimed that he was helped by Republican congressmen during the storming of the Capitol last week.

Ali Alexander - who organised the “Stop the Steal” movement against the presidential election result - claimed in a since-deleted video on Periscope that he was assisted by three GOP lawmakers.

The Republican trio, Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar, are all “all hard-line Trump supporters”, The Washington Post reports. A spokesperson for Gosar has denied the claim.

Suspicions about Republican involvement in the rioting have also been raised by more than 30 House Democrats, who “are demanding information from Capitol security officials about suspicious visitors at the US Capitol on 5 January”, Politico says.

The New York Times says the National Guard will be “in every corner” of Capitol Hill on inauguration day. A total of 20,000 members of the reserve force are being deployed to the capital, compared with around 8,000 at Trump’s inauguration four years ago.

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