Trump supporters erupted in the chanting “lock her up” – a refrain from the 2016 campaign, initially lobbied by Hillary Clinton, but has since been rebuilt against Whitmer and other high-ranking Democrats – which Trump did little to dissuade.
“Lock them all,” he said before pausing to soak up the crowd.
The impressive visual light quickly caught Whitmer’s attention, who answered while the president was still speaking.
“It is this rhetoric that puts the lives of me, my family and other government officials in danger as we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans,”
Trump and other critics of governors’ measures to fight the virus – which has now infected more than 8 million Americans and killed at least 210,000 nationwide – have repeatedly pointed to Whitmer, a first-class governor on the battlefield. In April, Trump tweeted Liberate Michigan and recently ridiculed her as the “lock queen.”
Earlier this month, federal and state law enforcement officials announced a number of charges – including violations of Michigan’s anti-terrorism law – against at least seven people in connection with a complex plot to kidnap and possibly harm the governor.
But the alleged kidnapping plot, involving members of a police group that the FBI also suspects plans to kill police officers and possibly Whitmer herself, has done little to quell criticism of her by Trump and other conservatives.
“I guess they said she was threatened, right?” And she blamed me, “Trump said in disbelief. “She blamed me, and our people were the ones who worked with her people, so let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens. ”
Trump then called on the FBI to focus on the antifa, which is a frequent comeback when the president is questioned about his previous ambiguities about white Supremacist and other extremist groups.
Whitmer’s deputy digital director, Tori Sailor, linked Trump’s comments to jumps in online abuse against the governor.
“Every time the president does a rally, violent rhetoric immediately escalates on social media,” Sailor wrote. “It simply came to our notice then. You just have to. “
Trump’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on Whitmer’s tweet.
The former Trump aide, who has become a critic of Anthony Scaramucci, has denied Trump’s rhetoric, saying it “incites violence” and accused other GP leaders of being complicit in not condemning him.
“Hey guys: Trump incites violence against a seated governor, @VP @senatemajldr @GOPLeader your silence is complicity. Is that how you want to be remembered?” Scaramucci wrote on Twitter.
Lee Chatfield, chairman of the Michigan House of Representatives, tweeted after the rally: “I was proud to speak in support of the president tonight! I’m glad to vote for him again. And no, Trump is not chanting ‘lock her up’ for our “But others did it and it was wrong. It was literally just targeted. Let’s discuss the differences. Let’s win the election. But not that.”