Michigan governor hopeful jokes about Whitmer kidnapping plot

Two men were convicted in August for conspiring to kidnap Whitmer.

September 24, 2022, 7:15 PM

Tudor Dixon, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Michigan, and Donald Trump Jr. joked about the 2020 kidnapping plot against Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, drawing backlash as the plot was one of the highest-profile domestic terrorism cases in this country's recent history.

Dixon slammed her opponent's handling of businesses and schools at her first stop in Troy, Michigan, on Friday.

"The sad thing is that Gretchen will tie your hands, put a gun to your head and ask if you're ready to talk," said Dixon.

"For someone so worried about being kidnapped, Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking business hostage and holding it for ransom," Dixon added during her speech at the American Polish Cultural Center in the city.

In this Aug. 6, 2022, file photo, Michigan Gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon speaks during the general session at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas.
Go Nakamura/Reuters, FILE

Dixon was later joined by former President Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., at an outdoor rally in Muskegon, Michigan, later Friday afternoon. There, Dixon brought up the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month, where President Joe Biden and Whitmer were seen holding hands on the showroom floor.

"Did he [Biden] think she was his wife? What exactly was happening there?" said Dixon. "The look on her face. She's like, 'Oh my gosh. This is happening. I'd rather be kidnapped by the FBI.'"

Near the top of Trump Jr.'s speech at the rally in Muskegon, he asked the crowd whether there were any "Feds in the crowd."

"I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some sort of, you know, federal kidnapping plot being -- well that is actually a crime that they prevent, unlike everything else that they let go," said Trump Jr, calling the kidnapping plot "fake" and that it was "orchestrated by the FBI."

"Gretchen Whitmer can know about it months in advance, but you know, if we can get good PR from it, we can pretend like it's real," said Trump Jr., in reference to the FBI beginning an investigation in early 2020 before arresting and charging six men for conspiring to kidnap Whitmer in October of that year.

In this screen grab from a video, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon and Donald Trump, Jr., appear at a rally in Muskegon, Mich., on Sept 23, 2022.
ABC News

When asked by ABC News at a media gaggle afterwards whether Dixon's and Trump Jr.'s jokes may be a step too far, Dixon responded, "I think that we have to have a little levity still in life."

Trump Jr. responded to ABC News, "Oh, I think we also have to hold those accountable because when you see what the FBI knew and what they knew, and that they allowed it to go this far and created that," as he accused the federal agency of staging the plot.

"Because we live in a dual-tiered justice system in this country where if you're on the left or doing their bidding, you can get away with anything. But if you're on the right, you're brought away in shackles, I think that's also a problem," Trump Jr. added.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Sept. 14, 2022.
Paul Sancya/AP

Two men were convicted in August for conspiring to kidnap Whitmer and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. The governor was not harmed.

In a statement to ABC News, Maeve Coyle, the communications director for Whitmer, said, "Threats of violence -- whether to Governor Whitmer or to candidates and elected officials on the other side of the aisle -- are no laughing matter, and the fact that Tudor Dixon thinks it's a joke shows that she is absolutely unfit to serve in public office."

The Democratic Governors Association called Dixon's comments "dangerous" and that they're "an insult to law enforcement who keep us safe and utterly disqualifying for the role of Michigan governor."

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