News and Commentary

Trump Slams Whitmer’s Remarks About Kidnapping Plot Against Her

"Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist..."
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: President Donald J. Trump uses his cellphone as he participates in a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of Americas small businesses in the State Dinning Room at the White House on Thursday, June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

After Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) held a press conference about the six men arrested for allegedly plotting to kidnap her ahead of the November election, President Donald Trump criticized Whitmer for suggesting during the press conference that a comment Trump made at the recent presidential debate was received as a “rallying cry” for hate groups. 

“Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities. The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan. My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan,” said Trump. 

“Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities…I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches,” Trump concluded.

During Whitmer’s press conference on Thursday, she said she “never could have imagined anything like this” when she took the oath of office. 

Whitmer also called Trump divisive, and said an answer he provided during the recent presidential debate at which Trump was asked by the moderator if he would condemn white supremacy served as a “rallying cry” for unspecified hate groups and militias.

After Fox News debate moderator Chris Wallace asked whether Trump would condemn white supremacist and militia groups, Trump said that he would, but the subsequent exchange derailed and didn’t yield the answer Wallace seemed to be looking for. Trump has since condemned white supremacist groups, as he has done repeatedly in the past.

According to The New York Times, court documents released thus far do not provide evidence to support the claim that the individuals arrested believed Trump’s answer during the debate was a “rallying cry” for them. 

According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday, the group of six men all but one from Michigan engaged in conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conducted surveillance against Whitmer’s vacation home. The men also allegedly discussed targeting law enforcement officials. 

Two of the men allegedly interacted online, and met in-person early in the summer, before they were joined by others, including a leader of a Michigan-based militia, for training. According to the criminal complaint, authorities were told by a concerned militia member, who later became an informant for authorities, that some of the members of the militia group wanted to target law enforcement officials. 

As NBC News reports, the “involvement of that militia in the plot to kidnap the governor appears to be minimal as the group that was charged Thursday allegedly discussed keeping the broader militia out of their actual plan.”

Michigan State Senator Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader, released a statement condemning the actions of the alleged conspirators, saying that a “threat against our Governor is a threat against us all.”

“We condemn those who plotted against her and our government. They are not patriots. There is no honor in their actions. They are criminals and traitors, and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he concluded.

The state attorney general’s office said Thursday that seven different people were also charged under Michigan’s anti-terrorism act for allegedly plotting to kidnap government officials, among other insurgent activities. While the state attorney general’s office said in its statement that the six men arrested for conspiring to kidnap the governor were captured “as result of the execution of the warrants,” the exact relationship between the two groups of people, who total 13 in all, is not clear.

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