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Whitmer cites ‘serious threats’ in run-up to election

Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Robert Schmidt

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called the kidnapping plot against her evidence of “serious threats” from domestic terrorists, amid fears voters could face intimidation at polling places on Election Day.

Whitmer’s comments, on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” came three days after 13 men were charged in connection with a plot to storm the state capital building in Lansing, kidnap the governor, overthrow the government and try her for treason.

“I do believe that there are still serious threats, that groups like this group – these domestic terrorists – are finding comfort and support in the rhetoric coming out of Republican leadership, from the White House to our statehouse,” Whitmer said on Sunday. “So I remain concerned about safety and integrity going up to this election.”

These are the men who face either state or federal charges related to plans to overthrow Michigan's government and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Michigan’s attorney general is preparing to send guidance to local law enforcement officials on how to enforce laws against voter intimidation, as well as the bounds of the state’s open-carry law.

Whitmer blames Trump for fostering hate groups

President Donald Trump has encouraged supporters to go to the polls and “watch very carefully,” stoking concerns that people who follow his direction and carry openly visible firearms will intimidate voters.

In a September Facebook post, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, urged “able-bodied” supporters to join an “army” to enforce Trump’s election security. And during the Sept. 29 debate, the president said he was urging his supporters “to go in to the polls and watch very carefully.”

Earlier, in April, when states were in various stages of lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic, Trump tweeted a demand to “liberate” Michigan, along with Virginia and Minnesota – all run by Democratic governors.

“We are prepared to make sure this election goes smoothly,” Whitmer said on Sunday. “We are going to keep people safe as they go to the polls. And we will not tolerate anyone who is trying to interfere with someone’s ability to safely vote.”

After Whitmer blamed Trump for fostering an environment encouraging radical criminal behavior, the president shot back in a series of tweets Friday night casting the Michigan Democrat as ungrateful.

“My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan,” he wrote. “Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was similarly critical Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Republican said the kidnapping plot was a law-enforcement issue, and that while there’s no place for that aggression in a civilized society, Whitmer “should not be making politics out of this.”