Army investigates captain who led group to Trump rally before Capitol riot

U.S. Army Capt. Emily Rainey speaks during a television interview in Southern Pines, N.C., in May 2020.
U.S. Army Capt. Emily Rainey’s involvement in last week’s events at the Capitol are being investigated by the Amy.

The U.S. Army is investigating a psychological-operations officer who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington that was held shortly before a mob of President Trump’s supporters laid siege to the Capitol.

Commanders at Fort Bragg, N.C., are reviewing Capt. Emily Rainey’s involvement in last week’s events in the Capitol. She says that 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.


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

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.

They came from across America, summoned by President Trump to march on Washington in support of his false claim that the November election was stolen and to stop the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden as the victor

Jan. 10, 2021

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 had let her off with warnings twice before when she tore down the tape closing off the playground.

So far, at least 90 people have been arrested in connection with Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, on suspicion of violating curfew and more serious allegations relating to assaults on police officers, possession of illegal weapons and death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).


Rainey said her group and most people who traveled to Washington “are peace-loving, law-abiding people who were doing nothing but demonstrating our 1st Amendment rights.”

Members of the U.S. military are permitted to take part in political organizations and events out of uniform.

Arnold Schwarzenegger likened the U.S. Capitol siege to Nazi attacks in Europe in a video in which he called President Trump “the worst president ever.”

Jan. 10, 2021

There are caveats, however. The Department of Defense prohibits active-duty service members from sponsoring partisan organizations. It is unclear whether Rainey’s participation with her group on Wednesday went against departmental 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.