13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer
A total of 13 members of a militia group have been charged in connection with a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), which federal records released Thursday indicated was allegedly part of a plan to raid the state Capitol in Lansing.
Members of the group Wolverine Watchmen planned the plot as part of a larger mission to start a civil war, federal authorities said. According to reporting by the Detroit Free Press, the FBI and the Michigan attorney general filed felony domestic terrorism charges against group organizers.
Six also face federal kidnapping charges, with at least seven others charged with state crimes, according to the Detroit Free Press.
A federal affidavit alleged that members of the group had planned on throwing molotov cocktails at police officers who may have attempted to thwart the kidnapping plot.
The FBI says it investigated the alleged plot through a combination of undercover agents and confidential informants for several months after first becoming aware of the group in early 2020, when the militia organization discussed “the violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components” and “agreed to take violent action,” according to an affidavit.
Following an announcement of the arrests Thursday, Whitmer, in a livestream address, blamed President Trump for his failure to denounce certain extremist groups during the first presidential debate, which the governor argued served as a “rallying cry” for the militia group that planned to kidnap her.
“Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacist and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups,” Whitmer said. “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit.”
Trump responded to Whitmer’s remarks in a tweet Thursday evening, claiming that she “has done a terrible job” in her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and “locked down her state for everyone.” The governor instituted some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the U.S., which conflicted with Trump’s calls for states to reopen across the country.
“Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!” he included in his Thursday tweet.
The president then thanked the Justice Department and federal authorities for foiling the plot, adding that “Rather than say thank you, she [Whitmer] 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!” he added.
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