Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Links Thwarted Kidnapping Plot to Donald Trump's 'Rallying Cry'

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has spoken out about the thwarted plot to kidnap her and is linking it to Donald Trump's "rallying cry" for right-wing extremists. This week, the FBI apprehended a group of 13 men who had been plotting to kidnap Whitmer. In her first comments on the frightening situation, Whitmer placed the blame squarely on Trump's recent rhetoric, such as when he tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN," and refused to openly condemn white supremacy during the first 2020 presidential debate.

"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." The Michigan governor also blasted Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that he has spent months "denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division."

Global News notes that the criminal complaint against the men involved did not indicate they were inspired to kidnap Whitmer because of Trump's comments, but they have been reported to have pro-Trump ties and connections. Following the arrests, Trump criticized Whitmer for her for calling him a "white supremacist" — which she did not do — and added, "Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband's boating activities."

Speaking to CNN, Whitmer in turn criticized Trump for his response to the news of a kidnapping plot against her. "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," she said. "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."