Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan laid the blame for the alleged kidnapping plot against her firmly at President Trump’s feet on Tuesday, accusing him of “sowing division and putting leaders, especially women leaders, at risk” with his divisive rhetoric.
In an op-ed published in The Atlantic, Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat in her first term, wrote that she was “not surprised” by the scheme and vowed not to “stand back and let the president, or anyone else, put my colleagues and fellow Americans in danger without holding him accountable.”
“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,” she wrote. “This is no coincidence, and the president knows it. He is sowing division and putting leaders, especially women leaders, at risk. And all because he thinks it will help his re-election.”
The F.B.I. said earlier this month that an anti-government group had plotted to kidnap Ms. Whitmer. More than a dozen men accused of involvement in the plot were charged with a variety of state and federal crimes including terrorism, conspiracy and weapons possession. The F.B.I. has said that another Democratic governor, Ralph Northam of Virginia, was also discussed as a possible target.
Ms. Whitmer wrote that learning about the plot had been “jarring.” and took particular aim at Mr. Trump’s remarks last week at a rally in Michigan. After he mentioned her name, the crowd began chanting “Lock her up,” to which he responded, “Lock them all up.”
In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, Mr. Trump denied that he had attacked Ms. Whitmer even though he has repeatedly insulted her, made derisive comments about her leadership and urged his supporters on Twitter to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
“I haven’t gone after her,” he said. Asked by his interviewer, Lesley Stahl, if he wanted to “lock her up,” he replied: “Of course, I don’t want to lock her up. Why would I lock her up?”
Ms. Whitmer and the Michigan attorney general have tied the plot to comments from President Trump and his refusal at times to condemn white supremacists and violent right-wing groups.
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