Democratic congressman Steve Cohen suggested on Monday that Trump supporters within the National Guard who have been designated with protecting Joe Biden 'might want to do something' to the new president.
Cohen said that he remembered former India Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards and suggested that any Trump supporters within National Guard units would come under suspicion.
'The National Guard is 90 some-odd percent male, and only about 20 percent of white males voted for Biden,' he said. 'You've got to figure that in the Guard, which is predominantly more conservative … they're probably not more than 25 percent of the people there protecting us that voted for Biden. The other 75 percent are in the large class of folks that might want to do something,' Cohen said, speaking to CNN.
Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen expressed concern National Guard troops responsible for protecting Washington on Inauguration Day could be a threat to President Biden
[email protected] on his concerns w/ the National Guard securing the Inauguration: ¿The [National] Guard is 90 some-odd percent male; and only about 20 percent of white males voted for Biden ¿ there are probably not more than 25% of the people there protecting us that voted for Biden¿ pic.twitter.com/ofQfLuCw8I— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 18, 2021
Anchor Jim Sciutto challenged Cohen stating that being a Trump voter would not automatically mean that person was a 'threat of violence.'
'I mean — to have voted for Trump does not make you an insider threat,' Sciutto said.
'I'm curious, is there anything you've seen to substantiate just how broad this insider threat might be, if it exists?' Sciutto asked.
Cohen provided no evidence to substantiate his claim but explained how he would look for those who might be viewed as a possible threat.
Cohen suggested too many 'white males' who voted for President Donald Trump but he admitted to CNN anchor Jim Scuitto he had not seen any evidence to substantiate the threat
'You draw a circle, the first circle is people who worked for Trump and not for Biden, as far as people who would be in the zone of folks who you would be suspect of,' he said. 'The suspect group is large.'
Cohen quickly came in for criticism over his views with Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler railing him for implying that any Trump supporter might be a possible 'seditionist.'
'Hmmm, does a Democratic congressman really want to suggest that if you voted for Trump you might be a seditionist?' Kessler tweeted. 'What happened to the idea that military people are professionals and do their jobs regardless of political preferences?'
Steve Krakauer, the editor of Fourth Watch, a media newsletter, called the comment 'absolutely reprehensible'.
Cohen came in for withering criticism of his views on Twitter with some calling him 'stupid'
'This is absolutely reprehensible. Hard to argue this sort of labeling of our military is anything other than seditious too.'
Conservative writer Andrew Egger also piled into the criticism.
'Preemptively judging members of the military as security hazards based purely on the fact that they're white and male seems obviously and intensely stupid and dangerous to me.'
'Way to get into the spirit of #MLKDay by judging people on the color of their skin and not the content of their character,' added Cam Edwards, the publisher of a gun-promoting website.
There was plenty of criticism of Cohen after he aired the theory on CNN on Monday
The Acting US Secretary of Defense said on Monday there was no intelligence to indicate an insider threat to Joe Biden's inauguration but that troops were still being vetted before the event.
Christopher C. Miller said in a statement released by the Defense Department on Monday afternoon: 'As is normal for military support to large security events, the Department will vet National Guardsmen who are in Washington, D.C.
'While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital.
'This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events. However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique.'
National Guard troops near the fence line around the US Capitol building in Washington, DC,
Members of the US National Guard leave the US Capitol to take positions outside after an 'external security threat' prior to a dress rehearsal for the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, at the US Capitol on January 18, 2021 in Washington, DC
Acting US Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said on Monday there was 'no intelligence' of a threat
Earlier on Monday, a rehearsal for the inauguration had to be called off and everyone in attendance evacuated earlier in the day due to an 'external security threat' that turned out to be a fire started by a homeless woman under a nearby bridge.
In an unprecedented show of security force, 25,000 National Guard troops have been deployed to Washington, D.C., to protect Biden's inauguration this week with the city still on edge after the Capitol riot on January 6th.
Members of the National Guard cross a street in Washington, DC on January 18, 2021, as security has been tightened ahead of the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden as the next US president