Thirteen people, including seven men associated with the Wolverine Watchmen militia group, have been arrested in a sweeping takedown of plots to kidnap the Michigan state governor, attack the state capitol building and incite violence.
The group aimed to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who has traded barbs with Republican President Donald Trump over her response to the coronavirus pandemic, ahead of the Nov 3 presidential election, according to a criminal complaint.
At one point, the alleged plotters discussed recruiting a force of 200 to storm the state capitol in Lansing and take hostages, but later abandoned the plan in favor of surveillance and kidnapping Whitmer at her vacation home, the complaint said.
At a news conference, Whitmer accused Trump of encouraging extremist groups like the sick and depraved men that targeted her, citing his failure to condemn white supremacists at the recent US presidential debate against Joe Biden as an example.
When our leaders meet with, encourage and fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions, and they are complicit, Whitmer said.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany pushed back at her remarks, saying Trump has condemned all forms of hate. Governor Whitmer is sowing division by making these outlandish allegations, McEnany said in a statement.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said during congressional hearings in September that his agency was conducting investigations into violent domestic extremists, including white supremacists and anti-fascist groups. Wray said the largest chunk of investigations were into white supremacist groups.
The FBI became aware through social media in early 2020 that a group of people were discussing the violent overthrow of multiple state governments and used confidential sources to track their movements, according to the complaint.