The US President Donald Trump election campaign on Sunday accused Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer of “encouraging assassination attempts” against the Republican president.
The campaign claimed that the Democratic governor, during an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday, displayed a “86 45” sign on a table behind her as a means of delivering a coded message calling for Trump’s assassination.
“Governor Gretchen Whitmer displayed an ‘86 45’ sign during her TV appearance. 86 can be shorthand for killing someone,” the Trump campaign suggested. “Whitmer is encouraging assassination attempts against President Trump just weeks after someone sent a ricin-laced package to the White House.”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer displayed an "86 45" sign during her TV appearance.— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) October 18, 2020
86 can be shorthand for killing someone.
Whitmer is encouraging assassination attempts against President Trump just weeks after someone sent a ricin-laced package to the White House. pic.twitter.com/GzvtrjH40A
Unnamed representatives of the Trump campaign cited screenshots showing definitions of the numeral “86” from Wikiwand and the Urban Dictionary, in which the term is explained as American English slang that means “80 miles out and 6 feet under” standing for “killing someone”. The Trump representatives claim that “these are the standards she [Whitmer] set”. The number “45” was apparently understood by the campaign as standing for Trump – the 45th president of the United States.
Gretchen Whitmer can't have it both ways. These are the standards she set.— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) October 18, 2020
Whitmer’s deputy digital and creative director, Tori Saylor, retweeted a user praising the Democratic governor for placing the printout “8645” during the interview.
“Bright and beautiful. Nothing but respect. RBG. 8645. Nice plant, too. 10/10,” the account captioned a screenshot from the Whitmer’s NBC interview.
The Trump campaign’s deputy national press secretary, Courtney Parella, suggested that the governor’s display of the sign was “employing dangerous rhetoric”.
“By Gretchen Whitmer’s own standard, displaying something encouraging people to ‘86’ the President is employing dangerous rhetoric,” Parella said in a statement to Fox News.
During a Sunday interview on ‘Meet the Press’, Governor Whitmer accused Trump of “inciting domestic terrorism” for verbally attacking her following the discovery of a plot to kidnap her. Whitmer made the remarks in response to a video of Trump supporters chanting “lock her up” during the president's Saturday rally in Muskegon, Michigan, as Trump demanded that Governor Gretchen Whitmer re-open the state in the middle of a global coronavirus pandemic.
“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 — 10 days after that was uncovered, the president is at it again and inspiring, incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” Whitmer said, reacting to the video. “It is wrong. It has got to end – not just for me and my family but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans.”
Commenting on the Trump campaign rally video, Saylor on Sunday stated that the president was igniting violence against the governor on social media platforms during his rallies.
“I am the Governor's Deputy Digital Director. I see 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,” Saylor tweeted. “It has to stop. It just has to.”
I am the Governor's Deputy Digital Director. I see everything that is said about and to her online.— Tori Saylor (@tori_saylor) October 17, 2020
Every single time the President does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media.
It has to stop. It just has to. https://t.co/eupQXzGydN
On 8 October, US authorities announced that 13 men with links to white-nationalist militia groups were arrested and charged with plotting to kidnap Whitmer after she imposed a state-wide lockdown to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, a 14th person was charged with domestic terrorism in the failed abduction attempt.
On 20 September, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that a suspicious letter addressed to Trump was intercepted, after what two tests were conducted, confirming the presence of the deadly poison ricin. A Canadian woman was arrested and charged with making threats against the US president.