State of Michigan
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
In a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reprimanded President Donald Trump and Republicans for helping to stoke the discord that led to the jaw-dropping news
that the FBI thwarted an alleged plot to kidnap her.
"Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups," she said, referring to comments Trump made during the first presidential debate in which he told the far-right group the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by." (Trump later denounced the Proud Boys, but by then the group had already put the quote on memes and even T-shirts.)
"Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action," she said. "When our leaders speak, their words matter, they carry weight. When our leaders meet with 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 had been targeted by Trump and others on the right who opposed her emergency executive orders that shut down much of the state's economy to manage the coronavirus pandemic. In April, Trump egged on the protesters by tweeting "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"
, while Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey compared her actions to a tyrant. (Shirkey later denounced the would-be kidnappers, writing "A threat against our Governor is a threat against us all," on Twitter
.) In May, Metro Times reported on Facebook groups that were calling for violence
against Whitmer, a violation of the company's policy. After being contacted by Metro Times
, Facebook removed at least one of the groups.
Whitmer said she was stunned by the news.
"When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard, but I'll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this," she said.
She thanked law enforcement and FBI agents for their work in thwarting the alleged plot, which she hoped would bring these "these sick and depraved men" to justice.
"As a mom with two teenage daughters and three step sons, my husband and I are eternally grateful to everyone who put themselves in harm's way to keep our family safe," she said.
In the brief statement, in which she did not take questions from reporters, the Governor called for unity.
"We're Michiganders. We have grit. We have heart and we are tough as hell," she said. "We made it through the great recession. We made it through auto bankruptcies. We made it through floods and polar vortexes, but none of us has faced a challenge like COVID-19, not in our lifetimes. I've said it many times: We are not one another's enemy. This virus is our enemy, and this enemy is relentless. It doesn't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat, young or old, rich or poor."
She also admonished Trump for downplaying the threat of the virus and eschewing medical and scientific experts.
"This should be a moment for national unity, where we all pulled together as Americans to meet this challenge head on with the same might and muscle that put a man on the moon," she said.
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