Nessel, Benson hit back at Trump over Michigan election fearmongering

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (left) and Attorney General Dana Nessel (right) at the State of the State address, Jan. 29, 2020 | Andrew Roth

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson fact-checked President Donald Trump once again via Twitter Sunday, in response to Trump telling his rally crowd in Muskegon to “be careful” of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Nessel when it comes to ballots.

“Be careful of [Whitmer] and her attorney general. Because, you know, they’re like in charge of the ballot stuff, right. … You got to watch it. Watch those ballots. Watch what’s going on. … And law enforcement is watching,” Trump said Saturday.

Nessel fired back on Twitter, writing: “In nearly every state of the union, including Michigan, the Secretary of State is ‘like in charge of the ballot stuff.’

“I AM law enforcement,” she continued. “And you can bet our election will be safe and the vote will be protected.”

Benson also responded, tweeting that she is indeed in charge of ‘the ballot stuff,’ along with 1,600 clerks.

“We work to ensure that every voter can trust that their vote will count. Judging from the fact that 1.5mil+ have already voted, I’d say we’re doing a good job,” Benson said.

Trump spread more misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric at his rally in Muskegon Saturday, in which he again falsely claimed that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has the state locked down, leading to chants of “lock her up” from the crowd.

Whitmer appeared on “Meet the Press” Sunday to call out his comments, as Michigan has not been under a statewide stay-home order since June 1.

Trump attacks Whitmer after foiled murder plot, prompts ‘Lock her up’ cries at Muskegon rally 

An “86 45” pin visible in the background during Whitmer’s virtual appearance caused a stir within the Trump campaign. His supporters — including Trump’s official campaign account and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) — claimed she was inciting violence against Trump or even calling for his assassination, falsely interpreting “86” to mean an intent to “kill” the 45th president.

In reality, 86 is a common phrase used in the restaurant industry to signal that either an item is out of stock, or a disorderly person in a bar should be asked to leave. Several national journalists were critical of the stunt. 

The attempt to claim Whitmer was wishing death on Trump comes less than two weeks after an elaborate domestic terrorist plot to kidnap and murder Whitmer was thwarted by law enforcement.

Screenshots of conversations between the plotters were obtained Friday by FOX-17. Some include photos of Whitmer’s vacation home driveway, while one text message from alleged conspirator Brandon Caserta reads: “When the time comes there will be no need to try and strike fear through presence. The fear will be manifested through bullets.”

Since the kidnapping and murder plot against Whitmer was revealed, some Republicans — including the president, most recently at his Muskegon rally — have continued to strongly criticize her.

In another TV appearance Monday morning on “CBS This Morning,” Whitmer said: “Ten days after a plot to kidnap — to put me on trial and then to murder me — 10 days later, they’re back in Michigan using the same rhetoric.”