Michigan's Gov. Whitmer Slams President Trump's 'Character' After He Says She Didn't Say 'Thank You'
"A decent human being would pick up the phone and say, 'Are you okay? How's your family doing?' " Whitmer said Friday
"Bigotry and prejudice and violence is not acceptable," Whitmer, 49, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America on Friday, responding to the president's comments about her amid what authorities said was a foiled plan targeting her.
"There is ongoing rhetoric. Even the president last night in his tweet storm won't stop attacking me, and I think that it's creating a very dangerous situation—- not just for me but for people in leadership roles who are trying to save lives all across this country," Whitmer said.
The Justice Department announced Thursday that 13 men were charged in a plot to overthrow the state government, kidnap and kill the Michigan governor and incite a civil war.
Authorities said at least some of the men had attended protests against Whitmer's restrictions during the novel coronavirus pandemic and they wanted to put her on trial for "treason," MLive.com reports.
In a news conference after the men were arrested, Whitmer drew a link between their alleged crimes and Trump's behavior.
"Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups," she said. "'Stand back and stand by,' he told them. 'Stand back and stand by.' Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action." (Trump later disavowed the far-right group in question, the Proud Boys.)
The president, 74, tweeted later Thursday that Whitmer "has done a terrible job" amid the pandemic, while accusing the governor's shutdowns this year of being too aggressive.
He also boasted of his own role in helping arrest the men suspected of targeting her.
"The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan. ... Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist," he tweeted.
Trump went on to write: "I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President!"
Appearing on GMA on Friday, Whitmer told Stephanopoulos: "A decent human being would pick up the phone and say, 'Are you okay? How's your family doing?' That's what Joe Biden did. And I think it tells you everything you need to know about he character of the two people that are vying to lead our country for the next four years."
The governor also thanked law enforcement for their "unprecedented" efforts in stopping the plot.
"They worked and put themselves on the line to keep me and my family safe, and we are incredibly grateful," she said.
During a separate interview with CNN on Thursday, Whitmer said that Trump's comments fueled her critics — even to the point of extremism.
"We know every time that this White House identifies me or takes a shot at me, we see an increase in rhetoric online, violent rhetoric, and so there's always a connection and certainly it's something that we've been watching," Whitmer said. "But this took it to a whole new level."
She said she's asked both the White House and Republican leaders to "bring the heat down" when it comes to rhetoric.
Amid protests over Whitmer's shutdown orders this summer, some showed up inside the Michigan State Capitol building with riffles. Outside, others held up anti-Whitmer signs and violent effigies of the governor.
“I’m not going to make decisions based on being bullied,” Whitmer told PEOPLE then. “I’m not going to make decisions based on a tweet or a threat.”