Duckworth demands Pentagon investigate whether troops participated in Capitol riots
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is demanding the Pentagon investigate allegations that service members and military retirees were among those who participated in Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.
In a letter to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on Monday, Duckworth asked that he “immediately” direct each military branch’s criminal investigation service to work with the FBI and Capitol Police to determine whether active-duty troops or retirees “engaged in insurrection against the authority of the United States, or participated in a seditious conspiracy that used force to: oppose the authority of the United States; prevent, hinder and delay the execution of the Electoral Count Act; and unlawfully seize, take or possess property of the United States.”
“If accurate, it would be a disgraceful insult to the vast majority of servicemembers who honorably serve our Nation in accordance with the core values of their respective Services,” Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, said of reports on the involvement of service members and veterans in the Capitol siege.
“Upholding good order and discipline demands that the U.S. Armed Forces root out extremists that infiltrate the military and threaten our national security,” she added, urging Miller to take action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice if any service members or retirees are identified.
Military retirees can be recalled to active status and court martialed in some circumstances.
A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, Larry Rendall Brock Jr., was arrested Sunday in Texas and charged by federal prosecutors with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, as well as one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Brock had been photographed on the Senate floor Wednesday wearing a Kevlar helmet and flak jacket with military patches and holding plastic zip-ties used by law enforcement as handcuffs.
The Army is also reportedly investigating an active-duty psychological operations officer who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally that preceded the deadly riot, though she insisted to The Associated Press that neither she nor anyone in her group entered the Capitol.
The officer, Capt. Emily Rainey, reportedly already submitted her resignation in September after she was disciplined for tearing down caution tape at a playground that was closed under North Carolina’s COVID-19 restrictions. But because the process to separate an officer can take months, she is not officially due to leave the Army until April.
Duckworth’s letter is the latest effort from lawmakers seeking answers from the Pentagon after President Trump incited a mob to overrun the Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
On Sunday, Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.) and Sara Jacob (Calif.) also sent a letter to Miller asking him to direct military investigative services to work with the Justice Department to identify any active-duty troops at the riots, as well as recall to active duty retirees identified as rioters so they face military justice.
Gallego and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) also sent a letter Saturday to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy asking for a House Armed Services Committee briefing on the Pentagon and National Guard response to the siege.
Crow then spoke with McCarthy on the phone Sunday and, among other things, “raised grave concerns about reports that active duty and reserve military members were involved in the insurrection,” according to a statement on the call from Crow’s office.
“He requested expedited investigation and courts martial against those involved,” the statement said, adding that Crow also requested extra screening for “troops deployed for the inauguration to ensure that deployed members are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists. Secretary McCarthy agreed to take additional measures.”
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