Gov. Whitmer accuses Trump of inciting domestic terror after plot to kidnap her uncovered
"Rather than say thank you, she calls me a white supremacist," President Trump retorted.
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The Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, once on the short list to join the Biden ticket, said on Friday that President Trump's rhetoric "incites more domestic terror."
The governor's charge came a day after the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed it had uncovered a plot to "kidnap her and incite civil war," the bureau said. Thirteen men, including seven allegedly from a right-wing militia known as Wolverine Watchmen, were arrested and charged over the plot.
"Each time he has tweeted about me, each time that he has said, 'Liberate Michigan' and said I should negotiate with the very people who are arrested because they're 'good people,' that incites more domestic terror," Whitmer told ABC News.
"And I am not the only governor going through this," added Whitmer. "Certainly it's been worse for me than most, but it is not unique to me, it is not even unique to Democrats. This White House has a duty to call it out, and they won't do it — in fact, they encourage it."
After the arrests, Whitmer said she was shocked by the "depraved" and "sick" plot, blaming the men's hatred of her on Trump, who she said had spent the last seven months "stoking division."
But contrary to Whitmer's claims, one of the accused militiamen declared that Trump is a "tyrant" and called all government workers "your enemy."
"Video circulating on social media appears to show Brandon Caserta expressing his anti-government — and anti-Trump — views," the New York Post reported. According to the outlet:
"'Trump is not your friend, dude,'" Caserta says, with an anarchist flag hanging behind him. 'It amazes me that people actually, like, believe that when he's shown over and over and over again that he's a tyrant. Every single person that works for government is your enemy, dude.' ...
"Caserta's alleged views surface amid Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Whitmer both blaming Trump for inspiring the sick scheme, as they claim he failed to denounce white supremacy and extremism in the US."
Trump blasted the governor in a succession of Twitter posts late Thursday.
"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," the president tweeted.
"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," he wrote. "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!"
Trump then added: "Governor Whitmer — open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!" The governor has ordered some of the most restrictive lockdowns in the U.S. In April, thousands of protesters swarmed the Michigan state capitol in Lansing to demonstrate against Whitmer's orders.
Of the president's response to the revelations from the FBI, Whitmer said on Friday: "A decent human being would pick up the phone and say, 'Are you OK? How's your family doing?'
"That's what Joe Biden did. And I think it tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people that are vying to lead our country for the next four years."
Biden also ripped Trump.
"When Governor Whitmer worked to protect her state from a deadly pandemic, President Trump issued a call to 'LIBERATE MICHIGAN!'" Biden said in a Twitter post. "That call was heard. He's giving oxygen to the bigotry and hate we see on the march in our country — and we have to stop it."