Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has accused Donald Trump of “inciting domestic terrorism” for attacking her following the discovery of the plot to kidnap her.
Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, she said: “It's incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me ... [is] inciting this kind of domestic terrorism. ... It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere.
“People of goodwill on both sides of the aisle need to step up and call this out and bring the heat down,” Whitmer added. “This is the United States of America. We do not tolerate actions like he is giving comfort to.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed Whitmer up Sunday, characterizing Trump's language as "irresponsible."
"The president has to realize that words of the president of the United States weigh a ton. And in our political dialogue, to inject fear tactics into it — especially a woman governor and her family — is so irresponsible," she said on ABC's "This Week."
Trump criticised Whitmer on Saturday for her policies to curb the outbreak, drawing shouts of "lock her up" from a rally crowd.
Trump made the remarks during the first stop of a three-day trip through critical swing states, some of which he won in 2016 but that polls show are supporting Democratic rival Joe Biden this year.
The president held large rallies in Wisconsin and Michigan despite rising coronavirus cases in both states.
At a rally in Muskegon, Michigan, Trump targeted Whitmer several times, criticising the state’s rules to stop the spread of coronavirus, calling her “dishonest”, and making light of a right-wing plot uncovered by the FBI to kidnap her.
"They said she was threatened," Mr Trump said. "And she blamed me."
The president has been critical of Whitmer, who was a candidate to be Mr Biden's vice-presidential nominee, for months.
“Hopefully you’ll be sending her packing pretty soon,” he said.
The crowd's chant of "lock her up", referring to Whitmer, reprised the chants that Trump supporters often direct at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in 2016.
Lee Chatfield, the Republican speaker of the Michigan house, wrote: “Trump didn’t chant ‘lock her up’ about our governor. But others did and it was wrong. She was literally just targeted. Let’s debate differences. Let’s win elections. But not that.”
Lara Trump, the president’s campaign adviser and daughter-in-law, said on CNN’s State of the Union that he wasn’t doing anything to threaten people with the chants. She said “he was just having fun” and that the atmosphere was “light-hearted”.
Tori Saylor, governor Whitmer’s deputy digital director, said on Twitter that she sees everything that is said about and to her online.
“Every single time the President does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media,” says Ms Saylor. “It has to stop. It just has to.”