President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign accused Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of “encouraging assassination attempts” against the president.
Whitmer appeared on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning and viewers quickly noticed an “86 45” sign displayed on the table behind her. Forty-five is a reference to Trump, who is the 45th president of the United States.
“86 can be shorthand for killing someone. Whitmer is encouraging assassination attempts against President Trump just weeks after someone sent a ricin-laced package to the White House,” the Trump campaign said on Twitter. “Gretchen Whitmer can’t have it both ways. These are the standards she set.”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer displayed an "86 45" sign during her TV appearance.
86 can be shorthand for killing someone.
Whitmer is encouraging assassination attempts against President Trump just weeks after someone sent a ricin-laced package to the White House. pic.twitter.com/GzvtrjH40A
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) October 18, 2020
Leave it to Michigan Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer to have a pin in the background of her TV hit that says “86 45.”
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) October 18, 2020
Tensions between the first-term governor and President Trump intensified earlier this month after the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap Whitmer. She blamed the attempted kidnapping on the president’s rhetoric, saying the two militia groups behind the conspiracy have “heard Trump’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry.”
“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage and fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit,” Whitmer said.
In response, Trump said he does not “tolerate any extreme violence” and defends “all Americans, even those who oppose and attack me.”
“Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job,” he said in an Oct. 8 tweet. “My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist — while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities.”
Whitmer criticized the president’s rhetoric again Saturday night when a crowd at a Trump rally in Muskegon, Michigan, chanted “lock her up,” referring to Whitmer.
“This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans. It needs to stop,” she said.
This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans. It needs to stop. https://t.co/EWkNQx3Ppx
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) October 17, 2020
During her Sunday MSNBC interview, Whitmer said it is “incredibly disturbing” that the president is “inciting this kind of domestic terrorism.”
“It is wrong. It has got to end,” she said. “It is dangerous, not just for me and my family but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans. People of goodwill on both sides of the aisle need to step up and call this out.”
In a statement provided to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Whitmer dismissed concerns about the “86 45” sign as “silly.”