The Center Square [By Chris Krug]-
If you are starting to believe or have committed certainty to the notion that anything and everything is open to politicization in the final few weeks ahead of the presidential election, welcome to the game.
Within a few hours of news that an apprehended right-wing militia group had intended to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as part of a larger antigovernment plot that may have included the targeting of law enforcement officers, the instigation of a civil war and an attack on the capitol in Lansing, Whitmer spoke at news conference. She associated the group with President Donald Trump and called Trump “complicit” for sparking the insurrection. Whitmer said, “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, a call to action.”
In the days that have followed, former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden and other Democrats have played into Whitmer’s narrative.
There is an anachronistic issue with these assertions: The plot to kidnap Whitmer was hatched in June, and at least one of the men arrested openly discussed his dislike of Trump.
The FBI said Thursday the investigation had been ongoing for months. FBI field intelligence and covert infiltration into the group that called itself the Wolverine Watchmen thwarted the group’s efforts.
On Friday, it became known accused conspirator Brandon Caserta previously posted a video in which he called Trump a “tyrant” and said, “Trump is not your friend, dude. It amazes me that people actually, like, believe that when he’s shown over and over and over again that he’s a tyrant. Every single person that works for government is your enemy, dude.”
Before that video’s release and perhaps before it was known to exist, Trump responded to Whitmer via Twitter on Thursday, posting: “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.”
Trump also shifted the militia group’s action back on Whitmer, who has been criticized widely for overstepping her executive powers amid COVID-19 and last week was ordered by the Michigan Supreme Court to unwind all executive orders dating to April 30. In another tweet, Trump said Whitmer had done a “terrible job” and “locked down her state for everyone.”
Trump said Thursday he does not “tolerate any extreme violence” and called on Whitmer to “open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches” in a subsequent post to Twitter.
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, condemned the plot Thursday.
“A threat against our Governor is a threat against us all,” Shirkey said. “We condemn the actions of the group of individuals that plotted against Governor Whitmer and state government. These people are not patriots. There is no honor in their actions. They are criminals and traitors, and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf told Fox 17 West Michigan on Friday “a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested,” and the Watchmen may have been attempting a citizen’s arrest of Whitmer rather than a kidnapping.
“I have to look at it from that angle, and I’m hoping that’s more what it is, in fact, these guys are innocent till proven guilty, so I’m not even sure if they had any part of it,” Leaf told the Fox affiliate.