Trump claims Michigan governor ‘wants to be dictator’ as critics say he encouraged kidnap plot

‘Michigan, she has to open up. She wants to be a dictator in Michigan, and the people can’t stand her’

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 15 October 2020 16:32
Trump claims Michigan governor ‘wants to be dictator’

President Donald Trump has issued a new attack against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer after it was revealed the FBI thwarted a domestic terrorism plot to kidnap her, claiming the Democrat “wants to be a dictator” in an interview on Thursday morning.

The president continued to escalate his rhetoric against Ms Whitmer, allegedly the subject of a kidnapping plot by a group of men that included former marines and supporters of the Boogaloo movement. Reports have said the group specifically targeted officials they believed were “violating the US Constitution,” according to a federal criminal complaint.

Speaking to Fox Business, the president called on governors across the country to “open up the states” despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Then referring to Ms Whitmer, he added: “Michigan, she has to open up. She wants to be a dictator in Michigan, and the people can’t stand her.”

Ms Whitmer, who has consistently maintained a higher approval rating than the president in her home state as governor, said the president’s words served as a “rallying cry” for extremists in a speech last week after it was reported how federal officials foiled the alleged plot against her.

“Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry,” she said. “When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.”

The men who allegedly planned to kidnap the Michigan governor were part of a right-wing extremist group that called itself the Wolverine Watchmen.

Numerous alleged members of the group have since been arrested and charged under Michigan’s anti-terrorism law for planning to storm the state Capitol in the hopes of provoking a “civil war” in the US.

The complaint detailed an alleged extensive effort by the group to surveil Ms Whitmer’s summer home and track her family’s whereabouts, including discussions the men had about kidnapping the governor.

One man allegedly said: “Snatch and grab man. Grab the f**** governor. Just grab the b****. Because at that point ... it’s over.”

“Have one person go to her house,” said another man allegedly planning the kidnapping, according to the complaint. “Knock on the door and when she answers it just cap her.”

Right-wing groups have lambasted Ms Whitmer for implementing coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the state as infections of the novel virus began spreading rapidly in March. The federal complaint said the men allegedly plotting to kidnap Ms Whitmer rejected what they said was her “uncontrolled power” as governor.

So far, 13 people associated with the extremist group and its alleged plots have been arrested and charged with state and federal counts. 

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