Trump, Whitmer play blame game after kidnapping plot against her foiled

Trump criticized Michigan governor in series of tweets Thursday

President Donald Trump and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been in a battle of words since Thursday’s announcement that several men were arrested and accused of plotting to kidnap her and overturn the state’s government.

Whitmer, whose vacation home was allegedly surveilled in hopes of capturing her, spoke to the public about the incident and the charges Thursday. Six men were charged by the FBI in the kidnapping plot against her. Another seven men were accused and charged by the state for allegedly planning to overtake local law enforcement and the state Capitol.

Whitmer argued Thursday that the president had issued a “battle cry” for extremists such as the ones involved in the plots. She also criticized Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 212,000 people, as “denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.”

She used the president’s “stand back and stand by” comments aimed at extremist group the Proud Boys as evidence of his link to the plot.

“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.”

In a series of tweets, the president, who was released Monday from the hospital after battling the coronavirus, railed against the governor for her comments and denounced her executive orders for Michigan throughout the pandemic. He wrote Thursday night that Whitmer did a “terrible job” by locking down her state when the virus began to spread.

“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. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while [Joe] Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities.”

The president went on to say he does not support “any extreme violence” and affirmed to his followers that his mission is to defend “all Americans.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also placed blame on the president, pointing to a previous tweet from Trump that read “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” The presidential hopeful and Whitmer have called for peace and an end to protests to move forward in these turbulent times.

Whitmer warned that those who go against the peaceful efforts to maintain safety in her state would be held accountable.

“Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in the great state of Michigan,” she said. “If you break the law or conspire to commit heinous acts of violence against anyone, we will find you, we will hold you accountable and we will bring you to justice.”