Whitmer criticizes Trump and warns leaders can ‘legitimize actions’

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Friday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer criticized the Trump administration for its response to conspiracists accused of plotting a kidnap of Whitmer. 

“I’m not going to waste my time arguing with the president. But I will always hold him accountable. Because when our leaders speak, their words carry weight,” she said.

This week, federal prosecutors charged men who conspired to kidnap Whitmer. The men, who had a history of ties to anti-government, extremist movements, monitored Whitmer’s vacation home and plotted to detonate a bomb as a distraction, according to authorities.

Whitmer said at a press conference following the threat that Trump is “complicit” in extremist violence in the US. An advisor for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign attacked Whitmer in response and said, “If we want to talk about hatred, then Gov. Whitmer, go look in the mirror — the fact that she wakes up every day with such hatred in her heart for President Trump.”

Whitmer responded, “They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do is to check-in and say, ‘Are you OK?’ — which is what Joe Biden did.”

In the op-ed, Whitmer doubled down on her statements and said, “When our leaders encourage domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.”

Protesters, many of them armed, have called out the Democratic governor for implementing a strict statewide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump publicly embraced the groups, calling them “very good people,” and also posted a series of tweets to “Liberate” several US states in lockdown. These tweets “were taken as a signal that he approved of armed insurrection” by far-right social media users.

“When a sitting president stands on a national stage refusing to condemn white supremacists and hate groups, as President Trump did when he told the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’ during the first presidential debate, he is complicit,” Whitmer added. “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry. As a call to action.”

After the president’s remarks in the first presidential debate, members of the far-right Proud Boys hailed his remarks and even used it as a tool for recruitment.

The White House did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on Whitmer’s op-ed. 

source.

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