An Army psychological operations officer who led a group during the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., that culminated in a deadly mob breaching the U.S. Capitol had resigned her commission several months prior to the event, according to a defense official familiar with the situation.
Capt. Emily Rainey, 30, was still on active duty during last week’s protests. However, she had already been handed down an adverse administrative action for a separate incident and resigned her commission, the official told Army Times.
Rainey’s involvement in the rally is currently under investigation by 1st Special Forces Command, which oversees her PSYOP unit, but there is no indication she acted against Army regulations or entered the Capitol during the riot.
Maj. Dan Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command, clarified in a statement Monday afternoon that Rainey submitted her resignation request in October, it was approved in November and she is slated to separate the service in April.
“It is unclear if she violated any laws or regulations, as the DoD 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,” Lessard said in the statement. “The investigation will determine whether further actions by the command are warranted.”
“At this time there is no indication any other members of the command were present at the Capitol,” Lessard added.
Rainey made local news in May after she posted a video online of her pulling down caution tape at a playground in Southern Pines, near her duty station of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that was closed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Rainey’s command took administrative action against her after the Southern Pines incident, but Lessard did not say what that entailed.
During last week’s events in D.C., Rainey led roughly 100 members of a group called Moore County Citizens for Freedom to the region. President Donald Trump spoke at the rally there and repeated false claims that the 2020 election had been rigged against him.
Moore County Citizens for Freedom describes itself on its Facebook page as a nonpartisan network promoting conservative values through education and activism.
Rainey told the Associated Press 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.”
“I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights,” she told the AP over the weekend.
Rainey did not respond to a request for comment sent to her through social media. She is currently assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group, a unit tasked with using information and misinformation to shape the emotions, decision-making and actions of U.S. adversaries.
The Jan. 6 rally in D.C. started off peacefully near the White House but grew deadly as pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol. Two Air Force veterans — one a Capitol Police officer, the other a rioter — were killed as result of injuries sustained in the riots. Five people in total died during the events.
The riot followed the rally where Trump repeated false claims that the election had been stolen from him and urged his supporters to “fight like hell.”
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.
This story contains information from the Associated Press.
Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.