WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday accused President Donald Trump of inciting “domestic terrorism” against public officials working on containing the coronavirus, pointing to comments he made just days after law enforcement foiled a plot to kidnap her.
Whitmer has been a frequent target for Trump during the pandemic — he’s previously criticized her state’s coronavirus-related restrictions as too strict and called on people to “Liberate Michigan.”
The day after Trump encouraged his supporters at a rally in the state who were chanting “lock her up” as an attack on Whitmer, the Democrat governor responded with a plea to lower the political volume.
“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,” she said in an exclusive interview on “Meet the Press.”
“It’s wrong. It’s got to end. It’s dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans. People of good will on both sides of the aisle need to step up and call this out and bring the heat down.”
The latest Trump attacks on Whitmer came during a Sunday night rally in Carson City, Nevada, where he called on her to relax coronavirus restrictions and mentioned a request her husband, Marc Mallory, made earlier this year about their boat.
According to news reports, Mallory had asked a local business if being married to the governor might help get their vessel in the water before a busy Memorial Day weekend. After the request was reported by local news media, Whitmer said she regretted the comment and described it as a "failed attempt at humor."
At other rallies, Trump's criticism of Whitmer prompted supporters to start chanting “lock her up,” a refrain many supporters directed at 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during that campaign.
Shortly after the chants began, the president replied “lock them all up,” stepping back from the microphone as the chanting continued.
Earlier this month, authorities arrested and charged 13 men, who are members of militia groups, in an alleged attempt to kidnap Whitmer. One member allegedly told the FBI that they were considering killing police officers too, and an FBI agent testified that the men had also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
On Sunday, Whitmer noted that while her state hasn’t had a stay-at-home order since the late spring, “he never lets the facts get in the way of comments that he’s making.”
“Every moment we are not focused on the fact that there are 220,000 Americans who have died from this virus is good for him,” she said.
“So in that sense, as he incites additional violence against people who are just trying to save one another’s lives, that’s good for him.”
There have been 8.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 220,271 deaths attributed to the virus in America so far, according to NBC analysis. The Detroit News reported that Michigan had its highest seven-day average for daily, new cases this past week. Hospitalizations and deaths are also rising, according to the paper.
When asked on “Meet the Press” to respond to Trump’s attacks on Whitmer, Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar sidestepped the question.
“I’m not going to get into politics. What I’m going to talk about is: Red state, blue state, open state, closed state, open country, closed country, we see these cases spreading. Why? Because we’ve been in this for many months, people are tired,” he said.