Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Brittany Greeson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Six men have been charged in an alleged plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Thursday. Seven other men linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen were charged by Michigan's attorney general for plotting to attack the state Capitol building.

Driving the news: Whitmer responded to the thwarted operation in an address on Thursday, calling for national unity and criticizing President Trump for his failure at the first presidential debate to explicitly condemn extremist groups. Hate groups heard Trump's comments "not as a rebuke, but as rallying cry, as a call to action," Whitmer said.

The big picture: Whitmer has been heavily criticized by some right-wing groups for implementing strict coronavirus restrictions. In April, hundreds of protesters, including armed members of local militias, stormed the Michigan Capitol in protest of Whitmer's stay-at-home order.

  • President Trump faced criticism for encouraging the protests and calling on Whitmer to "give a little," tweeting at one point: "LIBERATE MICHIGAN."
  • Violence by militia groups has become a growing concern in the past months. The details of the alleged plot revealed on Thursday shed more light on how people with extremist ideologies are organizing themselves.

The men charged were named as Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta.

Details: The FBI started tracking the conspiracy in early 2020 via social media channels through which individuals were plotting the violent overthrow of state governments and law enforcement. The FBI had an inside source at a meeting held in June.

  • “The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the source stated. “They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions."
  • "At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer." Members of the group reached out to a Michigan-based militia group as part of a recruitment effort.
  • The FBI was already tracking the militia in March because members were trying to acquire the addresses of local law enforcement officers, the FBI agent wrote.
  • Reports out earlier this year suggested that militia groups had been posting threats about Gov. Whitmer in private Facebook groups.

In response to the news, a Facebook said, “We remove content, disable accounts and immediately report to law enforcement when there is a credible threat of imminent harm to people or public safety. We proactively reached out and cooperated with the FBI early in this ongoing investigation."

In August and September, members of the group staked out Whitmer's vacation home and discussed kidnapping or killing her.

  • During the surveillance operation, Fox commented, “She fucking goddamn loves the power she has right now” and that “she has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now.”
  • Croft stated, “All good things must come to an end,” to which Fox responded: “I can see several states takin’ their fuckin’ tyrants. Everybody takes their tyrants.”

The state of play: In recent weeks, the Michigan governor's residence received security upgrades, including a new perimeter fence.

  • "As a matter of practice, we’re constantly reviewing security protocols and adjusting as needed," said Shanon Banner, spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police.
  • "We don’t comment on specific threats against the governor nor do we provide information about security measures."

Read the criminal complaint.

Go deeper

Poll: Biden ahead in Wisconsin and Michigan as coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a 7-point lead in Michigan and 17-point lead in Wisconsin against President Trump just days ahead of the general election.

Why it matters: Both swing states are vital for the candidates — but particularly for Trump, who's been floundering in state and national polling for weeks. Moreover, the surge for Biden comes as both Michigan and Wisconsin grapple with rising coronavirus case numbers as America approaches a potential winter wave of positive tests.

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.