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Steve Cohen feels 'overwhelming White' National Guard could be threat to Joe Biden as 'most did not vote for him'

Steve Cohen from Tennessee said the National Guard is mostly a male force and only 20% of White male votes went to Biden in the 2020 presidential election. 25,000 of them are deployed
President-elect Joe Biden and National Guard troops at Capitol Hill (Getty Images)
President-elect Joe Biden and National Guard troops at Capitol Hill (Getty Images)

Authorities in the US are tense ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president on Wednesday, January 20, thanks to the riot that broke out at the Capitol Hill building on January 6. Security cover has been tightened to unprecedented levels ahead of the high-profile ceremony but yet there are fears of an insider attack or other threats.

Officials are carrying out background checks on National Guard (NG) members who are deployed in Washington DC which Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller has said it is more out of a sense of caution than danger but yet the apprehension is very much alive.

While the military conducts routine review of service members for extremist links, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is also undertaking a screening in addition to monitoring that has been done earlier. A total of 25,000 NG troops have been deployed in the national capital for the presidential inauguration. 

Tennessee Democratic Representative Steve Cohen (Getty Images)

Amid the anxiety, a Democratic lawmaker from Tennessee has drawn the ire of the conservative camp by having a controversial take on the issue.

Steve Cohen, who is serving as the representative from the Volunteer State’s 9th congressional district, appeared on CNN recently where the host, Jim Sciutto, asked him about the insider threat in the light of former and current members of the US military and law enforcement taking part in the January 6 Capitol protest. The 71-year-old lawmaker then suggested that the NG personnel were overwhelmingly White and most of them did not vote for Biden. 


Cohen, who also dug into history to cite the assassinations of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi “by their own people”, brought up the race identity of the NG troops to say: “I think the Guard is 90-some-odd-percent I believe male, only about 20% of White males voted for Biden. You gotta figure that in the Guard, which is predominantly more conservative and I see that on my social media, and we know it, there are probably not more than 25% of the people there protecting us that voted for Biden, the other 75% are in the class that would be the large class of folks who might want to do something.”

The conservatives accused Cohen of launching a “blasphemous attack” on the NG personnel.

BizPack Review attacked Cohen besides other Democrats and “their corrupt media allies” saying in a report they were “whipping the nation into a frenzy” ahead of Biden’s inauguration and “exploiting the storming of the U.S. Capitol to justify the extreme lockdown of Washington”. The report said Cohen “did his part” by calling the NG members “overwhelmingly White” most of whom “did not vote for Biden” and hence posed a threat. 

“He then delved into the race of National Guard troops, before suggesting that 75% of the predominantly white soldiers “might want to do something” — a clear reference to violence. This blasphemous attack on the National Guard coming from not only a member of the House Judiciary Committee, but chairperson of the Constitution and Civil Justice subcommittee,” the report said about Cohen, who also happens to be a member of the two key committees. 

Sciutto was not in agreement with Cohen as he asked the Democrat lawmaker that voting for outgoing President Donald Trump did not make one an insider (the BPR report called that “surprising” in a subtle dig at the network which is not known to have the best of terms with the incumbent president).

He asked Cohen whether he has witnessed any evidence to back the claim of an inside threat and to that, the veteran lawmaker said: “Actually not. But you know, you draw circles of people, and in the first circle who work for Trump and not for Biden as far as people who would be within the zone of folks who you would be suspect of.”

“The suspect group is large,” he said. 

Members of the National Guard rest in the US Capitol on January 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. Security has been increased throughout Washington following the breach of the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday and leading up to the Presidential inauguration (Getty Images)

GOP senator blasts Cohen over 'ignorant assumptions'

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott lashed out at Cohen for his “ignorant assumptions.” In a Twitter post on Monday, January 18, Scott said Cohen believed some of the American troops are a threat just because they are White and male. “Our military members dedicate their lives to serving & protecting our country. Anyone who questions their ability to do so based on ignorant assumptions such as these should be ashamed,” he said.


Journalist and radio host Vince Coglianese also criticized Cohen for his viewpoint. “This is full blown insane.Sitting congressman says being a white male makes you a potential threat. Suggests upwards of 75% of National Guard troops might be types to try to “do something.” He also says the act of voting for Trump makes you a suspect as an insider threat,” Coglianese tweeted. 


The BPR article also mentioned that while Cohen was criticizing the Guard as a potential security threat to the incoming president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posed with the armed forces for a photo op, thanking them for protecting the Capitol and even handed them a challenge coin. 


It then said that Cohen is a Democrat under “Pelosi’s protection” and hence expecting accountability is a “moot point”. It also dragged in California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell saying Pelosi stood by the lawmaker who reportedly had a sexual relationship with a Chinese spy who even helped his electoral cause financially.