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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

FBI Agents Association: Don't fire Director Christopher Wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray is sworn in prior to testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 18, 2018. Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray should remain in charge of the Bureau, members of the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) wrote to President Trump and Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Why it matters: If re-elected, the president plans to immediately oust Wray. Trump has been vexed with his second FBI director and would’ve already fired him if he didn’t have to deal with the complications of acting before Nov. 3, one official previously told Axios.

Judge overturns ban on open carry of guns at Michigan polling places

People carrying firearms at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on Oct. 17. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky /AFP via Getty Images

Judge Christopher Murray on Tuesday reversed a directive by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that banned the open carry of firearms at or near polling places or absentee counting boards on Election Day.

Why it matters: Benson said the rule was intended to curb the possibility of voter intimidation or harassment on Nov. 3 Meanwhile, the state's Attorney General Dana Nessel argued the necessity for the directive has grown since an alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was revealed, according to the Detroit News.

16 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.