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MI House Speaker: Lawmakers should have been warned about alleged plot to kidnap governor

The Michigan State Capitol in Lansing
The Michigan State Capitol in Lansing(WLUC)
Published: Oct. 11, 2020 at 11:26 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/11/20) - Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield wants to know why the state legislature was not warned of the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Chatfield sent an open letter Saturday to Whitmer with questions about how the investigation had been handled.

It referenced the cases against 13 extremist militia members accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer, police officers, and state government leaders in Lansing.

Chatfield wrote, “The plot by these terrorists was against us, too. Why weren’t House sergeants warned? You knew, and we weren’t even given a warning. We had people working in the building every day doing essential work, and their lives matter, too.”

He said other lawmakers in Lansing, Republicans, and Democrats, had also been threatened through letters and calls to their homes but were not given security.

Whitmer last week had an op-ed published in the Washington Post. It was titled “I will hold the president accountable for endangering and dividing America." Whitmer said when leaders encouraged domestic terrorists they legitimized their actions, and words matter in standing up to hatred, bigotry, violence.

Chatfield referenced Whitmer’s criticism in the letter and wrote, “Hatred and violence are wrong, and that’s why I’ve continually denounced it. And I agree, it’s time to tone down the partisan rhetoric and turn “the heat down” as you’ve said. Will you do the same for President Trump? You’ve arguably been his biggest critic this year in the country.”

The house speaker also said Republicans and Democrats needed to cooperate more for “unified message and not political talking points or partisan finger-pointing.”

Below is the entire letter from Chatfield to Whitmer.

October 10, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

State of Michigan

P.O. Box 30013

Lansing, MI 48909

Governor Whitmer,

We need to cooperate more. A better message needs to be sent. And now that a couple days have gone by since the plot to attack us both has passed, there are several points that I believe need to be made and questions that need to be asked.

Why weren’t we in the Legislature warned of the plot to take hostages at the Capitol? The plot by these terrorists was against us, too. Why weren’t House sergeants warned? You knew, and we weren’t even given a warning. We had people working in the building every day doing essential work, and their lives matter, too.

I am also alarmed the Lieutenant Governor recently blamed Michigan Republicans for the evil plans of these unstable men. That accusation is inflammatory and untrue, and it does nothing to solve this problem. You chose to blame President Trump instead. The truth is, I started getting death threats to my family at my home the day you said my legislative actions would kill people. Please realize that.

But you should also know that others in the Legislature have been threatened, too. They’ve received threats, letters and calls to their homes. These threats have been to both Republicans and Democrats, but they aren’t given security. They don’t have the state resources to build million dollar fences at their homes. And we were also targeted in these evil plots. That’s why to overcome this, it will take a unified message and not political talking points or partisan finger pointing. It will take leadership.

Now, I’ve been critical of many of your decisions this year during COVID-19. I’ll admit that. I’ve agreed with some decisions, too. It’s important we have these debates. It makes us stronger. It ensures all voices in our state are heard. It’s how our process was designed to work. But we need to do it the right way. Blanket, partisan blame is wrong. It simply further divides us and causes more political strife.

Hatred and violence are wrong, and that’s why I’ve continually denounced it. And I agree, it’s time to tone down the partisan rhetoric and turn “the heat down” as you’ve said. Will you do the same for President Trump? You’ve arguably been his biggest critic this year in the country. You even fundraised this week off this plot, now making it political, which is sad.

Will the Lieutenant Governor turn it down with the entire Republican Party, millions of whom are his constituents? This wasn’t standing tall. It was cheap. We can do this, but we have to make this decision together. Let’s back up our words with actions.

Please know that I am praying for the good health and constant safety of you and your family. I hope you are of mine too. And I hope you will truly and finally allow us to work together to protect the lives and livelihoods of everyone who calls Michigan home. I’m ready. I hope you are, too.

Sincerely,

Lee Chatfield

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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