Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Links Kidnapping Plot To Trump's Hate Rhetoric
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer drew a strong line between an alleged conspiracy to kidnap her and the rhetoric of President Donald Trump, whose recent comments were taken as encouragement by right-wing militia groups.
"Just last week the President of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups," said Democrat Whitmer at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Six men involved in a militia group called Wolverine Watchmen are charged with conspiracy and kidnapping, and another seven are charged with state charges related to the alleged operation. The men wanted to "storm" the State Capitol in Lansing with 200 men to take hostages, including the governor.
Whitmer said Thursday that the suspects were aiming to "potentially kill" her.
Trump was unable to speak out against hate groups during his first presidential debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden last Tuesday. Trump has been pressured to condemn the Proud Boys, a group of violent right-wing extremists. He replied, “Proud boys, stand back and stand by.” Members of the Proud Boys quickly turned the President's words into a T-shirt and other merchandise.
Heavily armed anti-lockdown protesters showed up at the Michigan State Capitol in April when President Donald Trump tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN". (Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY via Getty Images)
Trump also deflected criticism of the debate by claiming, against the analysis of his own top law enforcement officers, that the problem comes primarily "from the left, not the right." The FBI warned two weeks ago that right-wing militia groups pose a "violent extremist threat," especially as elections approach.
"Hate groups heard the president's words not as a reprimand, but as a rally - a call to action," said Whitmer.
She continued, “When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet, encourage, or fraternize with local terrorists, they legitimize their actions and are complicit. If they stir up and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit. "
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to Whitmer in a statement claiming that Trump "consistently condemned white supremacists and all forms of hatred" and that the Michigan governor "sowed division".
Trump has danced around hate groups who claim to support him during his presidency; It took him two days after the debate to say the words "I condemn all white supremacists," which he eventually did on Sean Hannity's Fox News program.
Whitmer had been attacked by the president at the start of the coronavirus crisis for issuing strict lockdown orders that are credited with preventing nationwide outbreaks. In April, Trump responded to news of lockouts in Michigan by tweeting "LIBERATE MICHIGAN". At the time, heavily armed Michigandans showed up in Lansing to intimidate lawmakers and demand an end to lockdown measures.
When asked by reporters if he believed Trump's tweet influenced militias like Wolverine Watchmen, Biden replied on Thursday afternoon: "Yes, I do."
"Why doesn't the president just say 'stop'? Stop it, stop it, stop it," said Biden.
One of the men charged with conspiracy against Whitmer, Adam Fox, called her a "bully bitch" on a private Facebook group, according to the FBI.
“Snap and grab, man. Get the damn governor. Just grab the bitch, "Fox reportedly wrote. He is currently facing life in prison.
Whitmer called the decisions she had to make in the pandemic "bowel pain", adding that "2020 has been a tough year for all of us".
"It was hard for teachers, students and parents. Hard for those who had to stay isolated to be safe. But here is what I know. We are Michiganders. We have grit. We have hearts. And we are damn tough" , she said.
Trump Refuses To Condemn White Supremacists - Urges Proud Boys To "Stand By"
Who are the proud boys?
The White House refuses to respond directly to whether Trump condemns white supremacy
"Just grab the bitch": Militia plans to kidnap Michigan governor, Feds say
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