DC Guard Commander: Troops Getting Background Checks

DC Guard Commander: Troops Getting Background Checks national guardsmen stand outside in uniform in dc Members of the National Guard arrive at the dress rehearsal for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 18, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Rod Lamkey/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 18 January 2021 02:03 PM

The U.S. Army and Air Force, along with the FBI, are conducting "multilayered" background checks on all members of the National Guard deployed to Washington, D.C., to help provide security for President-elect Joe Biden's Wednesday inauguration, but such checks are routine every four years, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard said Monday.

"If after that, the guardsmen are confirmed to be available, the U.S. Secret Service will issue credentials," Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, which is overseeing the military mobilization in the wake of the Capitol siege, commented on Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

"It's a multilayered scrub, based on an abundance of caution," he added. "We want to make sure that everybody in this bubble of security that we are providing has the privilege to be there."

However, the general, also appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, said such screenings happen every four years for Guard members on deployment for the inauguration, and that the process is not one that is unique to this year because of the violence at the Capitol.

The screening of the Washington detail is "just a layer and then a layer on top of that, just to be absolutely certain," Walker told ABC. "Everyone joining the military is screened in, and for an event like this, you're screened out."

He also confirmed to Fox News an Associated Press report quoting officials saying the vetting has not yet caused anyone to be flagged, but said the extra security is necessary.

"We can either do it or be second-guessed after the fact that we are not doing it, so in an abundance of caution, we are definitely wanting to make sure that we have the right people in the security bubble," said Walker.

He also disagreed with Fox News' Bill Hemmer's comment that the nation's capital appears to have been "deserted" in the days before the inauguration, aside from the military presence.

"I wouldn't call it desertion," said Walker. "It hasn't been deserted. There are people walking around, but we are asking the community to cooperate with us, to be patient, and understand this level of security is required so we can have a peaceful transition of presidential power."