By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the alleged target of a foiled kidnapping plot, says the threats against her and other officials haven’t stopped.
“There is ongoing rhetoric. Even the president last night in his tweet storm won’t stop attacking me, and I think that it’s creating a very dangerous situation, not just for me but for people in leadership roles who are trying to save lives all across this country,” Whitmer told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview Friday on Good Morning America.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced charges on Thursday against six men in Michigan allegedly involved in a months-long plot to kidnap the Democratic governor and violently overthrow the state’s government before the November presidential election. During a press conference that afternoon, a visibly angry Whitmer lashed out at President Donald Trump for “stoking” hate and called the suspects “sick and depraved men.”
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Michigan State Capitol has been the scene of numerous protests by right-wing activists, some armed and calling for Whitmer’s resignation due to the lockdown order she imposed. Investigators said several of the suspects were among those protesting the state’s lockdown.
Trump took to Twitter Thursday night, saying Whitmer has “done a terrible job” and, regarding the foiled kidnapping plot, “rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist.”
“Governor Whitmer — open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!” he tweeted.
In April, amid protests over coronavirus-related restrictions, Trump faced heavy criticism for tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
The FBI said it first learned of the suspects’ plot in early 2020 and began embedding confidential sources and undercover agents to monitor their activities.
According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta started planning to take Whitmer and others hostage at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing. They even planned to blow up a bridge and allegedly intended to hold Whitmer for a trial and then execute her. The men went to the governor’s vacation home on two separate occasions in August and September to conduct surveillance, the complaint said.
During a press conference Thursday, Andrew Birge, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, said that the individuals were arrested Wednesday. Fox, Garbin, Franks, Harris, and Caserta are all residents of Michigan, while Croft is a resident of Delaware, according to the Justice Department.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told reporters that seven other individuals “linked” to a militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen have been charged under Michigan’s anti-terrorism law.
“The individuals in (state) custody are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan,” Nessel said.
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