Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was the target of a potential kidnapping plot, an FBI official testified before a court on Tuesday.
FBI agent Richard Trask testified that the same militia groups that organized the thwarted plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also planned to kidnap Northam, Axios reports.
“They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders” Trask said, referring to a June 6 meeting in Ohio. The Associated Press reports the meeting was attended by 15 members of anti-government groups from “four or five states.”
The report adds:
It wasn’t immediately clear if talk of targeting Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, continued beyond the meeting. Nothing from the complaint or Trask’s testimony indicated that anyone had been charged with plotting against Northam.
But the mention of another governor who, like Whitmer, has drawn attacks from President Donald Trump — and the alleged intent to carry out the kidnapping shortly before the bitterly divisive U.S. election — escalated political tension surrounding the case.
FBI: Whitmer plotters also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam https://t.co/4RfOFphzdy
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 13, 2020
After the kidnapping attempts were made public, both governors responded by blaming President Trump and accusing him of provoking political violence.
Northam responded to the testimony in the exact same manner: blaming Trump.
“These threats and this rhetoric is not coming from another country,” Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s coming from Washington. And that I regret, and it needs to stop.”
The Washington Post reports White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement noting the president has been repeatedly critical of white supremacist groups and all those who act violently.
“President Trump has continually condemned white supremacists and all forms of hate. Governor Whitmer, and now Governor Northam, are sowing division by making these outlandish allegations,” McEnany said. “America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.”
Here’s more from Axios:
Since early 2020, the FBI has been tracking violent extremist groups via social media sites. The FBI had an inside source at the meeting held in June, in which attendees from “four or five” states allegedly went over their plans.
- “They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders,” Trask said at Tuesday’s hearing.
- The common thread between both politicians was their strict initial responses to the coronavirus, although many of the restrictions have since been lifted.
- A spokesperson for Northam said that members of his security detail had been alerted by the FBI throughout the investigation.
According to the report, the six individuals who were arrested for coordinating the kidnapping attempts will face up to life in prison.