Army Investigating Psychological Operations Officer Present at Capitol on Day of Riot

The Army is investigating one of its active-duty officers who was at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when rioters stormed the federal building.

The 1st Special Forces Command said Monday that it was aware of Captain Emily Rainey's presence at the Capitol on the day of the riot and that the command, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is "currently investigating to determine the facts as to her exact involvement."

Rainey is a psychological operations officer who submitted her resignation request in October 2020, which was approved the following month, with an official separation date in April 2021.

"It is unclear if she violated any laws or regulations, as the [Department of Defense] encourages members of the Armed Forces to carry out the obligation of citizenship, so long as their actions are in keeping with DoD policy and do not impair the good order and discipline of the service," said Major Dan Lessard, a spokesman for the 1st Special Forces Command. "The investigation will determine whether further actions by the command are warranted."

Lessard added that there is currently no indication that any other members of the command were present at the Capitol that day. He told Newsweek in an email on Tuesday that the headquarters became aware of her participation in the rally through social media.

The statement from the Army comes after Rainey told The Associated Press on Sunday that she led 100 members of Moore County Citizens for Freedom at the Washington rally to support President Donald Trump and "stand against election fraud." The North Carolina-based group describes itself online as a nonpartisan network promoting conservative values.

Rainey defended her and her group's involvement, saying she did not know anyone who entered the Capitol. She added that the group headed back to their buses before the emergency citywide curfew took effect.

Capitol Riot
Crowds gather outside the U.S. Capitol for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6. The Army is investigating an officer who was at the Capitol the day of the riot. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty

The "Stop the Steal" rally began peacefully near the White House but grew violent and deadly after rioters attacked the Capitol in an attempt to block Congress from certifying the electoral votes cast in the presidential election.

"I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights," Rainey told the AP.

Members of the U.S. military are allowed to take part in political organizations out of uniform, but the directive prohibits active-duty members from engaging in partisan organizations.

Rainey said the group she traveled to Washington with "are peace-loving, law-abiding people who were doing nothing but demonstrating our First Amendment rights."

This is not Rainey's first encounter with authorities. Back in May, the psychological operations officer was charged with property damage and banned from playgrounds in Southern Pines, North Carolina, after she posted a video of her children playing on equipment that had been blocked off because of coronavirus precautions, according to TV station WRAL.

Police told the station that they had let Rainey off with two warnings before the incident. The Army subsequently gave her "appropriate administrative action" in response. She submitted her resignation in the fall.

At least 90 people involved in the Capitol riot, which left five people dead, have been arrested on charges ranging from curfew violations to assault against police officers.

Update (1/12/21 5:28 p.m.): This story was updated with further comment from Lessard.