Oct 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

FBI says Virginia governor was a potential target for militia kidnapping plot

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) speaks during a news conference. Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) speaks during a news conference. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The militia groups who had allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) during a June meeting in Ohio, an FBI agent testified in court on Tuesday.

The big picture: FBI agent Richard Trask was part of the investigation that thwarted an extremist plot last week to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow state governments and law enforcement. Six Michigan residents were arrested in connection with the plot, while seven others linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen were arrested for allegedly planning to attack the Michigan Capitol.

Details: 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.

What they're saying: "Here's the reality: President Trump called upon his supporters to 'LIBERATE VIRGINIA' in April — just like Michigan," the Northam spokesperson said in a statement.

  • "In fact, the President regularly encourages violence against those who disagree with him. The rhetoric coming out of this White House has serious and potentially deadly consequences. It must stop."

Of note: The prosecution of the six men charged with the intent to kidnap Michigan's governor is ongoing and the defendants face up to life in prison if convicted.

Go deeper