The group plotted to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and frequent target of Republican President Donald Trump’s ire, ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, according to an FBI affidavit released on Thursday.
“Our efforts uncovered elaborate plans to endanger the lives of law enforcement officers, government officials and the broader public,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told a news conference to announce the charges.
Six men are facing federal charges and could face life in prison if convicted of attempting to kidnap Whitmer, said Andrew Birge, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Michigan.
Nessel said her office had filed additional charges against seven men affiliated with the Wolverine Watchmen militia group who were suspected to have violated the state’s anti-terrorism act by conspiring to kidnap the governor and propagate violence.
Whitmer was targeted by Trump for her efforts to enforce coronavirus-related social distancing measures, and he tweeted in April, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.”
Matthew Schneider, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Michigan, said the arrests should send a message that violence will not be tolerated.
“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics but those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence,” Schneider told the press conference.