The Michigan kidnapping suspects are the latest in a long line of right-wing extremists who have been more than willing to attack Trump's enemies on his behalf.
On Thursday, six right-wing extremists were arrested and charged with allegedly plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a frequent target of Donald Trump's attacks.
The men — Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta — are the latest in a long line of right-wing extremists who have been charged with either planning or carrying out violent attacks on Trump's perceived enemies.
Recently, Kyle Rittenhouse — a 17-year-old Trump supporter — traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he allegedly shot and killed two protesters who were demonstrating against the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
"That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like. And he fell. And then they very violently attacked him," Trump said. "And it was something that we're looking at right now, and it's under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would've been killed. But it's under investigation."
An internal document from the Department of Homeland Security first obtained by NBC News instructed federal law enforcement officials to paint Rittenhouse in a flattering light when talking to news outlets about the case. The outlined talking points included the claim that Rittenhouse "took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners," and that he was "chased and attacked" before the shooting occurred.
Whitmer's attempted kidnapping follow at least 52 other "threats or acts of violence committed by Trump supporters" from 2015 through 2019, according to an analysis by the Guardian.
Earlier this year, Patrick Crusius was charged with federal hate crimes for allegedly carrying out a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, inspired by anti-immigrant sentiment. Crusius wrote a manifesto in which he used words Trump has popularized, such as "fake news," "open borders," and "invasion."
In 2019, Cesar Sayoc pleaded guilty to 65 felony charges after he mailed pipe bombs to Democratic politicians and media organizations that Trump often bashes. Sayoc — who earned the nickname the "MAGA bomber" — was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Earlier that year, Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson — a self-proclaimed white supremacist — was arrested and charged with allegedly plotting to carry out a terror attack against "a list of prominent Democratic congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities" that Trump had attacked.
Also in 2019, a 55-year-old Trump supporter from New York was arrested and charged with threatening to murder Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who Trump has repeatedly smeared with lies and anti-Muslim rhetoric. The man, Patrick W. Carlineo, told law enforcement agents that "he loves President Trump and hates radical Muslims in government."
Other Trump supporters charged with allegedly carrying out violence in Trump's name include:
- Dallas Frazier, charged with assault for allegedly repeatedly punching an anti-Trump protester outside of a Trump rally in Ohio.
- Randal Thom, who was arrested in 2019 for allegedly trying to assault supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as he shouted "Trump 2020!"
- Scott Haven, a 54-year-old Trump supporter who was arrested in 2019 for allegedly making more than 2,000 threatening phone calls to Democratic members of Congress. In one call, Haven told a Senate aide that there are "far more Second Amendment people than whiny, crying liberals" — wording that mirrored Trump's campaign rhetoric.
Trump has explicitly encouraged his supporters to commit violence on his behalf. During the 2016 campaign, Trump urged his supporters to "knock the crap out of" protesters at his rallies, and promised to pay any resulting legal fees.
More recently, at the first presidential debate, Trump refused to condemn white supremacists and told members of the violent extremist group known as the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" — a message the group took as an order.
In April, Trump encouraged his supporters to "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"
That's exactly what the men arrested Thursday said they were trying to do.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.