Gov. Whitmer on Meet the Press: Trump incites domestic terrorism

LANSING — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer accused President Donald Trump of inciting domestic terrorism during a national TV appearance Sunday, in her strongest criticism of Trump to date.

“It’s incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial, and execute me — 10 days after that was uncovered — the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” Whitmer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” following a Trump campaign appearance in Michigan Saturday.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

“It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere,” said Whitmer, calling on opinion leaders everywhere to “call this out” and demand Trump tamp down his remarks.

A Trump campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

On Saturday night, Trump held a campaign rally at an airport near Muskegon, where he again repeated criticism of Whitmer for measures she has taken to address the coronavirus pandemic, prompting chants of “Lock her Up,” and appeared to summarize the alleged plot against Whitmer with the words: “I guess they say she was threatened.”

Trump has said Whitmer should be appreciative because federal officials uncovered and foiled the plot. In response to the chant from the crowd, Trump laughed and said: “Lock them all up.”

Federal and state officials have charged 14 men in connection with alleged domestic terror plots that included a plan to kidnap Whitmer from her family’s vacation home in northern Michigan. Defendants in the case conducted surveillance of the home on two occasions and discussed abducting her by boat and taking her to Wisconsin to “stand trial” for treason, according to evidence in the case.

More:Wisconsin man is 14th to face charges in alleged Whitmer kidnap plot

More:Trump downplays plot against Whitmer at Michigan rally, crowd chants ‘lock her up’

Whitmer has said Trump is “complicit”  in the plot by using highly charged words to criticize her, by sometimes refusing to condemn right-wing groups, and by giving encouragement and legitimacy to such groups by tweeting comments such as, “Liberate Michigan,” and by urging Whitmer to meet and negotiate with Capitol demonstrators.

Sunday’s remarks took those earlier comments a step further, by saying Trump actually incites terrorism.

Whitmer, a national co-chair of former vice president Joe Biden’s Democratic campaign for president, also said that with coronavirus cases rising nationally and in Michigan, all of the progress Michigan has made against the pandemic is “at risk” due to what she denounced as a “partisan” 4-3 Michigan Supreme Court decision Oct. 2 that struck down as unconstitutional the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945.

That statute was the major legal underpinning for Michigan’s state of emergency and Whitmer’s emergency orders related to the pandemic after courts ruled earlier Whitmer cannot extend a state of emergency beyond 28 days without approval of the Legislature, which the GOP-controlled House and Senate have refused to provide.

Whitmer said the Supreme Court decision “has created a lot of confusion and has worked to undermine the work we have done here.” But she said she is using the Michigan Public Health code and other powers to continue a statewide mask mandate, restrict the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings, and set requirements to ensure workplace safety.

Trump told thousands gathered at his Saturday rally they need to get Whitmer to end Michigan’s lockdown. Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order June 1, though some restrictions on business and other activities remain in place.

“We haven’t had a stay-home order since late spring,” Whitmer said Sunday, but Trump “never lets facts get in the way of comments he is making.”

She said Trump’s response to the pandemic is “the worst in the globe,” and that is because he has politicized the crisis, rather than addressing it from a science and health perspective.

We should have acted as though we were in a war,” Whitmer said. “But not a war with one another, a war with a virus.”

It was Whitmer’s third appearance on “Meet the Press,” the most influential of the Sunday public affairs programs and the longest-running program in TV history. She earlier appeared on the program in March and April, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter

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