(Headline USA) Only hours after police foiled an alleged plot to kidnap her, Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer found a way to leverage the traumatic episode to her political advantage by scapegoating President Donald Trump.
Six men were charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap the governor in reaction to what they viewed as her “uncontrolled power,” according to a federal complaint.
Separately, seven others were charged in state court under Michigan’s anti-terrorism laws for allegedly targeting police and seeking a “civil war.”
Whitmer claimed in a speech Thursday that Trump’s words had been a “rallying cry.”
Her own authoritarian impulses have been met with considerable criticism and protest from Michiganders as her mishandling of the virus—by comingling healthy and infected nursing home patients—seems poised for a federal probe.
Whitmer also was dealt a humiliating blow by the state Supreme Court this week after it ruled her lockdown restrictions to be unconstitutional. However, her crony health department director on Wednesday defiantly insisted that he still had the authority to impose them.
The negative press against her may have been enough to arouse suspicions among some of her detractors about the alleged kidnapping attempt, especially after she used it to deflect blame from her own pandemic response.
Whitmer claimed the Republican president had spent the last seven months of the coronavirus pandemic “denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.”
She singled out Trump’s debate comments, when he didn’t condemn white supremacist groups and told one far-right extremist group to “stand back and stand by.”
However, many have noted that Trump has repeatedly denounced white supremacy and right-wing extremism during his time in office even as he refused to be baited by the leading question from left-leaning moderator Chris Wallace.
“Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry,” Whitmer claimed.
“When our leaders speak, their words matter,” she continued. “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.”
Whitmer also issued a rather menacing warning to those who threaten violence, even as leftist groups continue to foment violent and lawless unrest in many parts of the country.
“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.”
There’s no indication in the criminal complaint that the men arrested were inspired by Trump.
Authorities also have not publicly said whether the men were angry about Whitmer’s coronavirus orders, which sharply curtailed businesses and individuals in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Democrat Joe Biden sought to tie Trump to the plot as well, pointing to the president’s tweet earlier this year to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany criticized Whitmer’s remarks.
“President Trump has continually condemned white supremacists and all forms of hate,” she said. “Governor Whitmer is sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.”
The arrests and Whitmer’s comments come less than a month before the presidential election in a key battleground state, which Trump narrowly won in 2016.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press