Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a news conference after thirteen people, including seven men associated with the Wolverine Watchmen militia group, were arrested for alleged plots to take Whitmer hostage and attack the state capitol building, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., October 8, 2020. Michigan Governor’s office/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Federal agents thwarted a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the government. Six men were charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap the governor in response to what they viewed as her “uncontrolled power.” They specifically referenced Michigan’s coronavirus restrictions, calling Whitmer a “tyrant.” In April, President Donald Trump said, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and expressed support for anti-lockdown protesters in May.

Their scheme involved months of planning alongside a militia group and rehearsals to snatch her from her vacation home. Separately, seven members of the militia group called Wolverine Watchmen were charged in state court under Michigan anti-terrorism laws for targeting police and seeking a “civil war.”

At a press conference, Whitmer criticized Trump, stating that he refused to condemn white supremacists during the first presidential debate. “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight,” Whitmer said. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden similarly denounced Trump, saying, “He is giving oxygen to the bigotry and hate we see on the march in our country.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump and accused Whitmer of “sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.” In a series of tweets Thursday night, Trump attacked Whitmer’s lockdown orders, her accusation of white supremacy, and told her to “open up” Michigan.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

FBI Foils Right-Wing Plot to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Months After Trump Urged “Liberation” of State – Democracy Now! – 10/9/2020
Just months after President Trump tweeted for his supporters to ”LIBERATEMICHIGAN!” the FBI has foiled an alleged plot to kidnap and take hostage Democratic Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer. Authorities arrested six men Thursday involved in the kidnapping plot, and seven others who were said to be planning to storm the state Capitol in Lansing with the intent of starting a civil war.

Trump Slams Whitmer’s Remarks About Kidnapping Plot Against Her – The Daily Wire – 10/9/2020
After Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) held a press conference about the six men arrested for allegedly plotting to kidnap her ahead of the November election, President Donald Trump criticized Whitmer for suggesting during the press conference that a comment Trump made at the recent presidential debate was received as a “rallying cry” for hate groups. 

Trump Keeps Inciting Domestic Terrorism – The Nation – 10/9/2020
Trump’s response to the news about the alleged plot against Whitmer follows the same pattern he has always used: deflection by reference to alleged left-wing violence and an insistence on the legitimacy of the goals advocated by the terrorists. That is what he’s doing with his attack on Whitmer. The logical inference one can draw is that Trump sees right-wing terrorists as part of his political coalition—and he doesn’t want to offend them.

Six Charged in Plot to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over COVID Lockdown – National Review – 10/8/2020
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent commented in the affidavit. “The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient….At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.” Group member Adam Fox “referred to Governor Whitmer as ‘this tyrant b—-.’”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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