Trump attacks Michigan Gov. Whitmer after white supremacist kidnapping plot foiled
In this April 15, 2020, photo, heavily armed protesters carry rifles near the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing during a protest against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus safety policies. Authorities say several of the indicted white supremacist terrorists who plotted to kidnap the governor were active in these protests earlier in the spring and summer. | Paul Sancya / AP

Shortly after a dangerous group of white supremacist terrorists were charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and put her on trial for “treason,” President Trump came out with his own attack on her.

The apparent motive behind the kidnapping scheme was the dislike the kidnappers had of the governor’s quick and early moves to protect the people of Michigan from the coronavirus. They considered the early lock-down and protective measures the governor ordered to be an encroachment on their freedoms.

Trump’s ‘Liberate’ tweets were in essence a call to arms for extremist right-wing militias. In Michigan, a group of white supremacist terrorists moved to act on his call. | via Twitter

Many of them, armed to the teeth, massed on the state capitol to protest those measures when they were first instituted earlier this year. They broke into the building waving their weapons and intimidating legislators.

At the time they did this, Trump tweeted his support of the armed terrorists, urging them, in all caps, to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

The scheme to take Whitmer prisoner was envisioned by the terrorists as the opening salvo of a campaign to take over the state government and hopefully launch a race-based civil war in the United States. The group had already conducted surveillance on Whitmer and her family to track their movements, stockpiled weapons, and detonated a test explosive.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks to the press after the kidnapping plot was exposed. | AP

Immediately after the would-be kidnappers were arrested, Trump again tried to make Whitmer a target, attacking the governor again for her coronavirus policies. The president, who has turned his own White House into a coronavirus hotspot, said Whitmer has done “a terrible job” with her response to the pandemic.

“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence. Violence has been prevented today,” Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider told reporters after the white supremacist terrorists were arrested.

Trump and the white supremacists:

As economy crumbles, Trump taps neo-fascist militias for his re-election effort

Trump’s message to white supremacists: It’s OK to gun down protesters

Trump turns to neo-Nazi symbols to attract racist votes

Trump hails Confederate names, monuments, and military bases

Trump tried to take credit for the arrest of the terrorists who were encouraged in part by his own rhetoric by saying it was “my Justice Department” that foiled the kidnapping. The reality was that the leadership role was played by the Michigan Justice Department, the FBI which is under attack by Trump, and local police who were not operating under orders from the president.

“Rather than say thank you,” Trump wrote on Twitter, “she (Gov. Whitmer) calls me a white supremacist while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities.”

Members of the Proud Boys white supremacist group participate in an armed ‘Second Amendment March’ at the Michigan State Capitol, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lansing. During his debate with Joe Biden, President Trump asked the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’ when he was asked to condemn white supremacists and whether he’d recognize election results if he loses. | Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal via AP

“Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in the great state of Michigan,” Whitmer said in a press conference shortly after the arrests were announced. She also was direct in placing blame on Trump for emboldening the actions of extremist groups.

She noted that rather than condemn white supremacists in his debate with Biden, Trump instead told the far-right Proud Boys group to “stand back and stand by.” Whitmer said, “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry, as a call to action.”

In an interview with CNN later on Thursday, she responded directly to Trump’s Twitter attacks on her. “You know, the fact that after a plot to kidnap and to kill me, this is what they come out with. They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do, [which] is to check in and say, ‘Are you OK?’”

She said Democratic candidate Joe Biden telephoned her immediately after the announcement of the plot being foiled. “I think that tells you everything that’s at stake in this election,” Whitmer said. “It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people on this ballot that we have to choose from in a few weeks.”

Whitmer has been praised by medical and health professionals and other governors and lawmakers for the decisive action she took in trying to control the pandemic in her state. Since the initial strict lockdown she imposed, many of the initial restrictions on economic movement have been lifted.

Evet step of the way, however, she has had to do battle with the Republican-controlled legislature in her state which generally does the bidding of Donald Trump, who has constantly demanded that Whitmer “open up Michigan,” regardless of the consequences for the health and safety of its people.

AP contributed to this story.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.