WI Guard leader on inauguration vetting: 'Doing their due diligence'

As unprecedented security protects Washington ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden Wednesday, Jan. 20, there's extra protection in state capitals, including Wisconsin.

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Capitol Police warned lawmakers to stay home over the weekend, and as a precaution, Wisconsin Senate and Assembly committee meetings scheduled for Tuesday were canceled.

At the same time, Wisconsin National Guard members were serving two missions: protecting the Wisconsin Capitol while also protecting the seat of American government.

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Five-hundred members of the Wisconsin National Guard deployed to D.C. to protect the nation's capital, among a total of 25,000 National Guard members in Washington -- two and a half times the number at earlier inaugurations.

"So every guardsman takes an oath, and it's to defend the constitution from enemies foreign and domestic, and as we've seen, sometimes the enemies are a little closer to home," said Richard Idler, Delaware National Guard.

Security ramped up after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and now includes extra screening of the troops.

"Everyone is on heightened senses, heightened alert," said Peter Gaynor, acting Homeland Security secretary. "What happened on the 6th is is is absolutely uncalled for. You know, it's horrible in our history."

Major Joe Trovato

"Our troops, they possess security clearances at the federal level and things, so it's likely just the FBI doing their due diligence and ensuring that everybody is who they want to be there, but from there, it’s just a matter of ensuring safety and security at the inauguration," said Major Joe Trovato with the Wisconsin National Guard.

With worries of possible insider attacks, the FBI said all National Guard members serving at the inauguration would be vetted.

"None of our troops have certainly been sent home or denied the ability to participate in that mission," said Major Trovato.

In the meantime, with some of those arrested having ties to the military and law enforcement, Milwaukee police and Milwaukee County sheriff's officials said they haven't found any indication members of two of the state's largest law enforcement agencies took part in the insurrection. Those departments said they're not sending officers to help with security at the inauguration.

In Milwaukee, Mayor Barrett said Monday night operations would continue as normal, while officials monitor for threats.

"If there is going to be a change in how we are operating as a city government, you will hear about that," Mayor Barrett said.

The Army secretary told the Associated Press that he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems. So far, he said they haven't seen evidence of any threats, and vetting hadn't flagged any problems. 

Besides the mission in D.C., other Wisconsin National Guard troops and Humvees on Sunday protected the Wisconsin Capitol.

(Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

"It was very quiet at the state Capitol," said Trovato.

There are reasons for vigilance.

"We are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter," said FBI Director Christopher Wray, warning of possible armed protests in D.C. and at state capitals. "We’re tracking calls for potential armed protests and activity leading up to the inauguration."