RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam’s administration and other state officials responded after it was revealed in an FBI agent’s testimony Tuesday that members of an anti-government paramilitary group discussed kidnapping the governor.
“These threats are not coming and this rhetoric is not coming from another country. It’s coming from Washington and that I regret, and it needs to stop,” said Northam during a briefing Tuesday afternoon.
The administration says the FBI alerted key members of the governor’s security team throughout the course of their investigation. The administration also revealed that enhanced security measures have been in place for the governor and his family for some time and will remain as such.
“It’s unfortunate, and I will let you know and Virginia know, I will not work under a cloud of intimidation. That’s not who I am," said Northam. "I was elected to serve the commonwealth of Virginia and that’s what I plan to do.”
Northam is blaming rhetoric from Washington, D.C., specifically President Donald Trump’s tweets about liberating Virginia in response to controversial state coronavirus lockdown measures.
“I realize I’ve been in this long enough, not everything we do is agreeable to all Virginians. But when language is used such as ‘liberate Virginia,’ people, they find meaning in those words and thus these things happen," said Northam.
The following statement was released by the Northam administration:
“President Trump called upon his supporters to “LIBERATE VIRGINIA” in April — just like Michigan. 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.”
Northam’s administration is citing a tweet made by President Donald Trump in April, and Virginia was not the only state he tweeted about to “liberate.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to Northam’s statement by saying, “President Trump has continually condemned white supremacists and all forms of hate. Governor Whitmer, and now Governor Northam, are sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.”
Attorney General Mark Herring also released a statement on the uncovered threats towards the governor:
"Words have consequences. When we have a President who regularly spews hate and openly incites violence, people can be put in serious danger. From day one, President Trump has used his platform as Commander-in-Chief to vilify his opponents and to urge his supporters to go after anyone who may disagree with them, and that includes both state and national leaders. This kind of harmful rhetoric further divides our country and it needs to stop now before more Americans are hurt.
“I want to thank the brave women and men who are dedicated to protecting the Governor and his family and keeping them safe on a daily basis. Something like this brings up fear and pain that most of us will hopefully never have to experience, and I am glad that Governor Northam and the whole Northam family are safe from this senseless plot.”
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