Six of the men are accused of having conspired to expose the democratic governor to criminal acts, including by abducting her. Seven other men have been charged with plotting to assassinate police and the state assembly.
According to Reuters and AP, the arrested are charged under terrorism and weapons legislation, and some of them are also said to have planned to abduct and kill a number of other high-ranking politicians.
The goal must have been to trigger a civil war.
– Heard the President’s words
The six men who are charged with the plans to abduct Whitmer, planned to attack her holiday home, writes AP.
The governor has been at odds with Donald Trump on social media, and in April the president announced the slogan: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN», Ie« FREE MICHIGAN ». There is nothing in the court documents, as Reuters and AP quote, to suggest that the accused were inspired by Trump, nor have the authorities said whether the men were frustrated by Whitmer’s efforts against the coronavirus.
Still, Whitmer, for his part, is adamant that Trump can be linked to the plans.
– When our leaders meet, encourage and associate with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. It makes them complicit, Whitmer said at a news conference just hours after the FBI arrested the men, and charged Trump and “these sick and displaced” people who are charged.
She referred to the presidential debate between Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden, in which Trump was asked to distance himself from white extremists, and responded by asking the far-right and racist group Proud Boys to step down and “be prepared.”
– Hate groups heard the president’s words – not as if he distanced himself from them – but as a battle cry. When our leaders speak, their words mean something, Whitmer said.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also believes the men may have been inspired by the president’s actions. He refers to the aforementioned Twitter message from Trump in April, about liberating Michigan.
“Trump must understand that the words he utters mean something,” Biden said when he arrived in Arizona on Thursday, according to NTB.
Asked if he thought Trump’s Twitter message could have inspired the men accused of the kidnapping plans, he replied “yes, I do”.
Militia members are among the accused men, and seven of them are either members of or can be linked to the Wolverine Watchmen group, which operates in the state, according to Reuters.
Trump: – Zero tolerance
Trump himself has addressed the accusations that he has allegedly encouraged the plans until Friday night Norwegian time. He starts a long Twitter-tirade by writing that Whitmer has done a “terrible job.”
– She blocked the state for everyone, except her husband’s boat activities. (…) The Ministry of Justice and our federal law enforcement announced today that they have made a conspiracy against her harmless. Instead of saying thank you, she calls me a white supremacist, Trump writes.
He further writes that “Biden and Democrats continue to refuse to condemn Antifa, anarchists, looters and mobsters who burn down cities.”
– I do not tolerate any form of violence. I will always defend Americans who are exposed to it – to those who oppose and attack me. This is because I’m their president! he writes.
Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also stressed to Fox News that Trump has repeatedly condemned white extremists.
“Governor Whitmer is creating divisions by making these bizarre accusations,” she told the channel and continued:
– America stands united against hatred and in support of our federal law enforcement that stopped this conspiracy.