Some of the men accused of plotting to kidnap and possibly kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also considered targeting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, an FBI agent testified Tuesday in federal court.
The domestic terrorism case emerged last week, with militia members and others arrested over their alleged roles in a plot to kidnap Whitmer and put her on "trial" for the restrictions she has enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Special Agent Richard Trask revealed the Virginia connection for the first time on Tuesday, adding new detail to a federal criminal complaint filed last week. According to that court document, several people who gathered in early June in Dublin, Ohio, "talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer."
"Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," the complaint said. Both Whitmer and Northam are Democrats.
Two of the people who were at that meeting — Adam Fox and Barry Croft – later made contact with a militia group in Michigan, Trask said.
The alleged domestic terrorism plot has prompted at least 13 arrests, including six men who face federal charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Another seven men face state terrorism charges; they are either members of a group called Wolverine Watchmen or are associates of that militia.
"There has been a disturbing increase in anti-government rhetoric and the re-emergence of groups that embrace extremist ideologies," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Thursday.
Nessel told NPR that "multiple white supremacy groups and militia groups have been acting in accordance with one another."
Both Virginia and Michigan have been hot spots for protests over government shutdowns and other restrictions meant to slow the coronavirus.
One large demonstration in Richmond earlier this year followed President Trump's tweeted call to "LIBERATE VIRGINIA."
Criticizing Trump's recent remarks on white supremacists, Whitmer said his widely condemned "stand back and stand by" comment about the Proud Boys has been taken by hate groups as a rallying cry, not a rebuke.