An Army officer is under investigation for joining last week’s rally in support of President Donald Trump and the subsequent deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to an Army spokesperson.
The woman, Capt. Emily Rainey, 30, a psychological operations officer stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, told The Associated Press that she led 100 members of a conservative advocacy group in North Carolina to Washington on Wednesday “to stand against election fraud.”
“I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights,” Rainey told the AP on Sunday.
The Army spokesperson, Maj. Dan Lessard, said the Army had opened a new investigation into her participation.
“We are aware of her presence at the event, and we are investigating her involvement to determine the exact extent,” Lessard said. “It’s not clear at this time that she has violated any laws or regulations by her presence or actions. That’s why we investigate to determine the facts.”
Lessard said there is no evidence that any other service members joined Rainey.
Although Rainey was reported to have resigned after the investigation was launched, Lessard said she submitted a letter of resignation in October and was approved in November to separate from the Army in April.
“Since this was before, it was not tied to the events in D.C. at all,” Lessard said.
Rainey could not be reached for comment by text messages or phone calls Monday, and her voicemail was full.
Rainey, who denied entering the Capitol, told the AP that she and her group, Moore County Citizens for Freedom, or MCCF, are “peace-loving, law-abiding people who were doing nothing but demonstrating our First Amendment rights.”
A day after the riot, MCCF shared a video of an unmasked group of peaceful protesters waving American and Trump flags and singing the national anthem.
“This is what a peaceful protest looks like. They should pray we stay that way,” the post reads.
MCCF’s Facebook page was one of many that helped promote the rally, sharing videos of baseless election fraud conspiracy theories alongside posts promoting chartered trips to Wednesday’s gathering to oppose the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joe Biden.
The rally, where Trump spoke, culminated in thousands of his supporters’ storming the Capitol. Five people have died, including a Capitol Police officer who was attacked by rioters and died of his injuries.
In a video post introducing herself as “Emily Grace,” Rainey said MCCF is nonpartisan group, which “means that we don’t align ourselves or answer to any political party.” The group, which lists its No. 1 issue as “reopening North Carolina to pre-Covid standards,” opposes mask and vaccine mandates.
For the “10 million MAGA march,” according to its Facebook event page, MCCF charged members $70 for a coach bus to and from Washington, saying the Republican Party provided the rental.
“The GOP has rented a bus for January 6. We are leaving the Belk Plaza at 4:00AM and arriving at Freedom Plaza around 9:30 AM. Leaving DC at 6:00 PM,” the event description reads.
Rainey last summer had a minor run-in with law enforcement, which she broadcast as part of a social media protest.
NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleigh reported that Rainey was charged with property damage and banned from a playground after she recorded and shared a video of herself pulling the caution tape off a playground that was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“All you freedom fighters, this is for you,'” Rainey said into her camera before tearing down the caution tape.
Speaking to WRAL, Rainey said “healthy people should have their constitutional rights to gather and to play with their children at the park.”
Police told WRAL that Rainey tore the tape down twice before and that she was charged with the misdemeanors after she ignored two police warnings.
Lessard said the Army command was aware of Rainey’s park protests last year and “took appropriate administrative action” at that time.
The Associated Press contributed.