After the FBI quashed a plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, President Donald Trump added gas to the fire in a Thursday evening Twitterstorm and criticized her for not thanking him.
But Whitmer combated Trump and other Republicans in Michigan on CNN Thursday evening, saying they didn’t help when they could have and have emboldened far-right groups.
“The fact of the matter is, I have raised this issue with the White House and asked them to bring the heat down,” Whitmer said. “I have asked leaders — Republican leaders in this state — ‘Let’s bring the heat down.’ I was aware of many of the threats made to me and my family and I asked for their help. And they didn’t do a darn thing about it and then denied it was a problem.”
Trump took to Twitter Thursday evening hurling insults at Whitmer, saying that the governor “has done a terrible job.”
“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. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a white supremacist,” Trump tweeted.
Thirteen men have been charged for what officials categorize as “extremist” plans to target Whitmer and to attempt to overthrow the state government. Federal officials charged six militia members on multiple counts for alleged acts of terrorism and state Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office charged seven more men under Michigan’s Anti-Terrorism Act.
Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden spoke up about the terrorist plot and the response from the president.
“There is a throughline from President Trump’s dog whistles and tolerance of hate, vengeance and lawlessness to plots such as this one. He is giving oxygen to the bigotry and hate we see on the march in our country,” Biden said in a press release Thursday night.
Biden criticized Trump for his “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” tweet in April, for calling anti-lockdown protesters “very good people” in May and last week when Trump told the far-right group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” during the first 2020 presidential debate.
Nessel said on CNN Friday morning that Trump isn’t the only one in Washington, D.C. who is complicit to these extremist attacks, but also accused U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr of possible perjury.
During a House Judiciary Committee in July, Barr said that he wasn’t aware of any threats made against Whitmer by protesters who opposed her stay-at-home orders.
“And yet, his own authorities were actively working to foil these types of plans and these threats, which seems very curious to me that either, A: he didn’t know what was happening in his own Justice Department or, B: he committed perjury,” Nessel said.
Ronna McDaniel, a Michigan native and Republican National Committee (RNC) chair, also took to Twitter Thursday to criticize Whitmer for calling out President Trump’s response.
“Let’s be clear: The plot against Governor Whitmer was pure evil, and the law enforcement officers who stopped it are heroes. But calling [Trump] ‘complicit’ is an outrageous attempt to score political points ahead of an election,” she tweeted.
In May, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf shared a stage at an anti-lockdown rally in Grand Rapids with William Null, one of the suspects arrested in the plot against Whitmer.
Leaf told Fox 17 Thursday that he was “shocked” and “did not see that coming with those guys.”
But Leaf was hesitant to make any conclusions that the men accused of the plot are guilty.
“It’s just a charge, and they say a ‘plot to kidnap’ and you got to remember that,” Leaf said. “Are they trying to kidnap? Because a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested. So are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt?”
“In fact, these guys are innocent till proven guilty so I’m not even sure if they had any part of it,” he added.