Six Charged in Scheme Against Michigan Governor Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was the subject of a plot to kidnap and “try Whitmer for ‘treason’ before the election in November” according to FBI officials who announced arrests of those involved.
The FBI revealed Thursday that it thwarted a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, unsealing charges against six people who it said contemplated a violent overthrow of the government as state authorities charged seven more who they said wanted to attack police and ignite a civil war.
The plotters, according to an FBI affidavit, seemed to be motivated by their belief that state governments, including Michigan’s, were violating the Constitution. One of those involved complained in June that Whitmer (D) was controlling the opening of gyms — an apparent reference to coronavirus shutdown restrictions. But unbeknown to them, the FBI had confidential informants recording many of their discussions, according to the affidavit.
President Trump has been publicly critical of Michigan’s leaders because of the state-imposed measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, tweeting in April, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.”
In announcing the charges, officials hinted at the nation’s toxic political climate.
“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics,” said Matthew Schneider, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “But those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence.”
According to federal and state officials, the plotters were extremists who considered a range of actions to foment mayhem. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said her office had charged seven people who were linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen with providing material support to terrorists and other related offenses. They were planning and training, she said, to attack law enforcement officers and the state Capitol and ignite a civil war.
“There has been a disturbing increase in anti-government rhetoric and the re-emergence of groups that embrace extremist ideologies,” Nessel said in a statement. “These groups often seek to recruit new members by seizing on a moment of civil unrest and using it to advance their agenda of self-reliance and armed resistance. This is more than just political disagreement or passionate advocacy, some of these groups’ mission is simply to create chaos and inflict harm upon others.”
The FBI said in the affidavit that it became aware that people were discussing an overthrow of the government from social media postings in early 2020, and in June, two of those ultimately charged met with more than a dozen others in Ohio to discuss “creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient.” In that meeting, the FBI alleged, the group discussed both peaceful and violent tactics, and ultimately decided they needed to increase their numbers, according to the affidavit.