Donald Trump recently lashed out at Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, following the foiling of an alleged kidnapping plot against her. This week, federal and state authorities apprehended a group of 13 men who are all charged in connection to the kidnapping plot. In her first statements on the thwarted plan, Whitmer criticized Trump for what she feels is the role his rhetoric played into the situation, included his recently refusal to publicly condemn white supremacy.
Trump then took to Twitter to criticize Whitmer's governorship, and express his frustration that she did not thank him personally for federal authorities stopping the kidnapping plan. "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," he wrote, in a series of tweets. "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—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! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
According to Global News,the criminal complaint against the men involved did not indicate they were inspired to kidnap Whitmer because of Trump's comments. However, they have been reported to have pro-Trump ties and connections. Following the arrests, Whitmer spoke out in a press conference, linking the actions of the extremists to Trump tweeting things like "LIBERATE MICHIGAN."
"Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry," Whitmer 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."
Later, while speaking with CNN, Whitmer added, "We know every time that this White House identifies me or takes a shot at me, we see an increase in rhetoric online, violent rhetoric, and so there's always a connection and certainly it's something that we've been watching. But this took it to a whole new level." Whitmer than said, "I have raised this very issue with this White House and asked them to bring the heat down. I have asked leaders, Republican leaders in the state -- let's bring the heat down."