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Officer resigns as Army investigates her involvement in Washington rally that led to U.S. Capitol riot

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A psychological operations officer who the Army is investigating for leading a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington that led up to the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol had already resigned her commission, CBS News correspondent David Martin reports. Commanders at Fort Bragg said they were reviewing Captain Emily Rainey’s involvement in last week’s events in the nation’s capital, but she said she acted within military regulations and that no one in her group broke the law.

“I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights,” Rainey told The Associated Press on Sunday.

A Defense official told CBS News the Army is investigating how many soldiers from Fort Bragg accompanied Rainey to Washington. Rainey had resigned her commission after receiving a career-ending letter of reprimand for her actions at an earlier protest in the Fort Bragg area, Martin reports. 

Because the process takes time, Rainey was still on active duty when she led a group of protestors to Washington and is due to leave the Army next month. Officials at Fort Bragg are now working to determine what other soldiers went to Washington and whether they were part of the mob that stormed the Capitol, Martin reports.

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Rainey said she led 100 members of Moore County Citizens for Freedom, which describes itself online as a nonpartisan network promoting conservative values, from North Carolina to Washington to “stand against election fraud” and support Trump. She said the group attended the rally but she didn’t know of anyone who entered the Capitol and that they were headed back to their buses hours before an emergency curfew took effect.

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Rainey, 30, is assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, according to Maj. Daniel Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command. Known as PSYOPS, the group uses information and misinformation to shape the emotions, decision-making and actions of American adversaries.

Rainey made headlines back in May after she posted a video online of her pulling down caution tape at a playground that was closed under North Carolina’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Police in Southern Pines, a community about 30 miles west of Fort Bragg, charged her with injury to personal property over the incident. The police told  WRAL-TV that they let her off with warnings twice before after she tore down the tape closing off the playground.

In Washington on Wednesday, insurrectionists took over the House and Senate chambers, smashed windows and waved Trump, American and Confederate flags. The riot  followed the rally where Trump repeated false claims that the election had been rigged against him and said he and his supporters are going to have to “fight much harder” to protect democracy.

So far, at least 90 people have been arrested  on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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Rainey said that her group and most people who traveled to Washington “are peace-loving, law-abiding people who were doing nothing but demonstrating our First Amendment rights.”

Members of the U.S. military are permitted to take part in political organizations and events out of uniform. However, there are caveats. The Department of Defense directive prohibits active-duty servicemembers from sponsoring partisan organizations. It is unclear if Rainey’s participation with her group on Wednesday went against DOD policy.

Rainey said she attended the Trump rally while on leave and didn’t advertise that she was an Army officer. She said Sunday afternoon that her commanders had not inquired about her time in Washington, but she did not immediately respond to a subsequent inquiry about the Army’s investigation.

“I told my bosses before I went that I was going, and I told them when I got back,” she said.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona who is an Iraq war veteran, tweeted Monday that Rainey “needs to be removed from her job.”

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