President Donald Trump on Tuesday questioned the government’s case against a group of men accused of plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan, saying at a rally that it might not have been a “problem” in the first place.
It was just the latest in a string of Trump attacks against Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of a crucial swing state.
“Hey, I’m the one — It was our people that helped her out with her problem,” Trump told a rally in Lansing, referring to the alleged kidnapping plot in which six men have been charged federally and eight more face state terrorism charges.
“And we’ll have to see if it’s a problem, right? People are entitled to say, ‘Maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn’t,’” the President added. “It was our people, my people, our people, that helped her out. And then she blamed me for it.”
The FBI alleges a militia plotted to kidnap and kill Michigan Whitmer.
Trump is telling a crowd of supporters in the state that "people are entitled to say maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn't" pic.twitter.com/CiFkGEZU0C
— Salvador Hernandez (@SalHernandez) October 27, 2020
Defense attorneys for some of the accused men say their clients never intended to actually abduct the governor, though undercover FBI sources and texts, pictures and video shared by prosecutors have shown the group taking steps including allegedly surveilling the governor’s home.
Trump has for months antagonized Whitmer over public health restrictions she’s used to slow the spread of COVID-19 in her state. Whitmer on Tuesday wrote, “Every time the President ramps up this violent rhetoric, every time he fires up Twitter to launch another broadside against me, my family and I see a surge of vicious attacks sent our way.”
The President has also argued that “my” Justice Department saved the governor from harm, lashing out after she said that hate groups heard Trump’s rhetoric as a “rallying cry.”
Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities. The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan. My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
Last week, Trump cheered on a “lock her up” chant during a rally of his in Michigan, responding to the crowd: “Lock them all up!”