Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Trump slams Gretchen Whitmer for not thanking him for foiling kidnap and calling him a 'white supremacist’

DONALD Trump has slammed Gretchen Whitmer for not thanking him for foiling the plot to kidnap her.

The president also accused her of calling him a “white supremacist” after she said his words had become a rallying cry for extremists.

Their verbal spat comes after the FBI said it thwarted a plot by the Wolverine Watchmen far-right militia group to kidnap Whitmer and arrested 13 men.

After Whitmer’s comments about him, the president hit back saying she “has done a terrible job”.

“She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities," he tweeted.

“The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan.

“My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan.

“Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities.”

Earlier Whitmer had rebuked the president for comments such as telling the Proud Boys to "stand by" during the presidential debate.

"Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry.

“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight.

"When our leaders meet, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit."

Prosecutors say the Wolverine Watchmen have been preparing for the "boogaloo", a term used in the militia movement for an uprising against the government or impending civil war.

Whitmer has become the focus of anger for her strict enforcement of Michigan’s stay at home and lockdown measures.

Social media accounts belonging to several them incite a “civil war” were a hive of pro-Trump, pro-gun and anti-government conspiracy theories. 

According to the FBI the men planned to then move Whitmer to a secure location in Wisconsin and put her on trial.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Casert and Ty Garbin – from Michigan and Delaware – have been charged with plotting the kidnap.

Another seven – Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison – face charges of terrorism and gang-related offences in state court in connection with the alleged abduction plot.

Musico, 42, the alleged founder of the militia group has posted a series of anti-government videos on YouTube, including railing against having to wear a seatbelt.

“When are you going to see they are taking our money from us? They are robbing us, wanting us to be like Venezuela?,” he said

Caserta posted photos of himself rapidly loading a rifle, wearing a 'F*** the government' shirt. 

He urged followers to “wake the f**k up” and warned “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”, in a series of videos.

Prosecutors said the conspirators planned to recruit 200 supporters to storm the state capitol building in Lansing and take hostages – but later switched to a plan to kidnap Whitmer at her vacation home.

Fox said that he was going after Whitmer at the home.

"Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f**kin’ Governor. Just grab the b***h," he said.

The FBI said surveillance for the kidnapping plot took place in August and September.

An undercover law enforcement source attended a meeting in Ohio where a group of Michigan-based militia members discussed overthrowing state governments.

They met basement that was accessed by a trapdoor hidden under a rug, the FBI says.

Their phones were gathered and placed in another room to avoid secret recordings but the undercover agent was wearing a separate recording device.

Four of the men had planned to meet Wednesday to make a payment on explosives and exchange tactical gear.

Fox, who was described as one of the leaders, was living in the basement of a vacuum shop in Grand Rapids and the owner says he kept firearms and ammunition there.

After the kidnap plot was foiled, Whitmer accused Trump of fomenting political extremism.

Who are the Wolverine Watchmen?

The group take their name from Michigan’s nickname – the Wolverine State.

Michigan has long been a hotbed of militia activity and they are fierce advocates of the Second Amendment – as well as the right to carry weapons in general.

The Wolverine Watchmen doesn't have much of an online presence.

It is not listed among the anti-government groups followed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist and hate groups. 

The Anti-Defamation League, which also monitors extremist groups, has no mention of the Wolverine Watchmen on its website.

Militias sprang up the aftermath of the Waco siege in 1993 when Federal agents were involved in a stand-off at a compound belonging to members of a millennial Christian sect.

The siege ended dramatically when fires consumed the compound, leaving some 75 people dead, including 25 children.

The authorities handling of the situation led to anti-government resentment and by spring 1995 almost every state had a militia group, says the ADL.

Many members of militia groups have been arrested since then, usually on weapons, explosives and conspiracy charges. 

In May, armed militiamen gathered outside Michigan's Capitol to rally against Governor Gretchen Whitmer's pandemic executive orders.

A property in Munith, Michigan, a rural area 75 miles east of Detroit was allegedly used the area for militia training, the Daily Beast reports.

Neighbors said they heard shooting coming from a run-down property and suspected the people who visited were part of a militia because of high caliber rounds they fired off on weekends. 

“They were mean," one neighbour said.

"You knew they were involved with the militia. That was obvious from the constant shooting.”

“When our leaders meet with, encourage and fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions, and they are complicit," she said.

Trump hit back on Twitter saying the governor "has done a terrible job".

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

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