Army officials at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, are investigating a psychological operations captain for her involvement in the Washington, D.C., rally that led to the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol last week.
In the aftermath of the riot, Army officials pledged to investigate whether any soldiers joined hundreds of Trump supporters in pushing past law enforcement officers to enter the Capitol and smash windows, damage offices and force lawmakers to halt their official count of Electoral College votes in order to shelter in place.
“I can confirm our command is investigating the involvement of Capt. Emily Rainey at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” Maj. Dan Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), said in a statement to Military.com.
Rainey, who is assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Bragg, told The Associated Press on Sunday that she had a right to attend the rally.
“I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights,” Rainey told the AP.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy agreed to a request from Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., for any soldiers suspected in the breach of the Capitol to receive fast-tracked investigation and courts-martial, according to a readout Crow released of his call with McCarthy on Sunday.
Rainey said she led 100 members of Moore County Citizens for Freedom, a self-described nonpartisan network that promotes conservative values, to Washington to “stand against election fraud” and support President Donald Trump, the AP reported. Trump has repeatedly alleged there was widespread fraud in the Nov. 3 election but has not produced proof of his claims.
This is not the first time Rainey has been in the spotlight. In May, she posted a video online of her pulling down caution tape at a playground that was closed under North Carolina’s COVID-19 restrictions, the AP reported.
Police in Southern Pines, a community about 30 miles west of Fort Bragg, charged Rainey with damage to personal property over the incident, after letting her off with warnings twice before when she tore down the tape closing off the playground, according to the AP.
Rainey officially resigned her commission as an officer in October and is scheduled to leave the Army in April, Lessard told Military.com.
Rainey said she attended the Trump rally while on leave and didn’t advertise that she was an Army officer, the AP reported.
“I told my bosses before I went that I was going, and I told them when I got back,” she told the AP, adding that her group did not enter the Capitol and left the city long before the 6 p.m. curfew that was imposed after the riot.
Members of the U.S. military are permitted to take part in political organizations and events while out of uniform, but the Pentagon prohibits active-duty service members from sponsoring partisan organizations.
“It’s not clear at this time whether she broke any laws or regulations with her travel to the Capitol,” Lessard said in the statement. “That’s why we are gathering all of the facts surrounding this case so we can determine whether actions are appropriate.”
— Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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