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AG: Michigan governor, family were moved as plotters tracked

Authorities announced Thursday that they foiled a stunning plot to kidnap Whitmer in a scheme that involved months of planning.
Credit: AP
In a photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. The governor delivered remarks addressing Michiganders after the Michigan Attorney General, Michigan State Police, U.S. Department of Justice, and FBI announced state and federal charges against 13 members of two militia groups who were preparing to kidnap and possibly kill the governor. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan authorities said Thursday that agents foiled a stunning plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

They announced charges in an alleged scheme that involved months of planning and even rehearsals to snatch her from her vacation home.

Michigan's attorney general says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her family were at times moved around by authorities as law enforcement tracked the men who allegedly plotted for months to kidnap her.

Dana Nessel disclosed the detail to “CBS This Morning" on Friday. She said the governor was consistently updated about the investigation over the past couple months.

Authorities announced Thursday that they foiled a stunning plot to kidnap Whitmer in a scheme that involved months of planning and even rehearsals to snatch the Democratic governor from her vacation home before the Nov. 3 elections.

RELATED: 'This is not a militia. It's a domestic terror organization,' Whitmer says of failed plot

Six men were charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap the governor in reaction to what they viewed as her "uncontrolled power," according to a federal complaint.

A few hours later, Whitmer pinned some blame on President Donald Trump, noting that he did not condemn white supremacists in last week's debate with Joe Biden and instead told a far-right group to "stand back and stand by."

Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism says that it's no coincidence militia groups have focused more on state governments in recent years.

"Traditionally, the anti-government anger of the militia movement has been directed at the federal government," he said. "But because the militia movement came out in support of Donald Trump, it's very difficult to be so angry at the federal government if someone you love is at the head of it."

The six men charged in federal court plotted for months, consulting and training with members of a group that federal authorities described as a militia, and undertaking rehearsals in August and September, according to an FBI affidavit.

RELATED: 13 charged in plots against Michigan governor, police

They were arrested Wednesday night and face up to life in prison if convicted.

Four had planned Wednesday to meet to "make a payment on explosives and exchange tactical gear," the FBI said in the court filing.

The FBI quoted one of the accused as saying Whitmer "has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now. All good things must come to an end."

Separately, seven others were charged in state court under Michigan's anti-terrorism laws for allegedly targeting police and seeking a "civil war."

Andrew Birge, the U.S. attorney in western Michigan, called the men "violent extremists."

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