Governor Gretchen Whitmer Addresses Kidnapping Plot and Voter Safety in New InterviewNovember 4, 2020
Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer expressed concern about the growing influence of right-wing militia groups during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation. Governor Whitmer, who leads her state as a Democrat, was the target of a recent kidnapping and murder plot by one such group. Whitmer blasted these groups as domestic terrorists and chastised members of the Republican Party for, in her view, supporting them through their political rhetoric. Governor Whitmer specifically criticized GOP leadership in her state and President Donald Trump for fanning the flames of right-wing extremism.
Last week, state and federal investigators arrested 13 men in connection with the plot against Governor Whitmer. Law enforcement officials say that the plot was very elaborate and involved several months of planning and training by the perpetrators. In addition to Whitmer, the group of men, among whom were two former members of the United States Marine Corps, intended to murder other governmental officials and law enforcement agents. The group went so far as to plan on blowing up several bridges to delay police response to the governor’s vacation house. The group was reportedly upset by Governor Whitmer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to law enforcement officials, the 13 perpetrators saw Whitmer’s orders to close establishments such as bars and gyms as tyrannical and against the values expressed in the Constitution. Last spring, Michiganders famously protested outside of the state’s capitol building with assault rifles as President Trump tweeted support for the groups.
Just as Whitmer has been vocal in her criticisms of Republican rhetoric on behalf of right-wing militias, so too have Republican officials criticized Whitmer for her response to the attempted kidnapping. Republican Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives Lee Chatfield says that Whitmer is using the plot to further her own political goals. Chatfield further criticized Whitmer for not being forthcoming enough on details on the plot, pointing out that the kidnappers intended to harm Republican officials as well.
During her appearance on Face the Nation, Whitmer also talked about the upcoming presidential election this November. As a battleground state, pollsters and political forecasters point out that every vote in Michigan will have a deciding effect on the outcome of the contest. Whitmer told reporters that she is fearful that right-wing militias will try to interfere with the election. Whitmer further points out that supporters of the president have already vowed to monitor polling stations to check for intended acts of fraud. The governor says that no one will be allowed to hinder the voting rights of any Michigander and adds that law enforcement will do whatever is necessary to make Election Day safe for voters.
Whitmer also addressed her state’s voting process this year. Michigan has been criticized by Republican lawmakers for having an extended deadline for mail-in ballots. According to voting laws in the state, ballots received within two weeks of Election Day may be counted by poll workers. In response to the criticism, Governor Whitmore says that she anticipates a historic turnout this presidential election cycle and promises that her state will diligently do its duty in counting votes.