Nessel compares attack on Pelosi’s husband to Whitmer kidnapping plot

By: - October 29, 2022 7:05 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel at a rally at the Flint Farmers’ Market on Oct. 28, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Attorney General Dana Nessel responded Friday to the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, comparing it to the plot in Michigan to kidnap and assassinate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Nessel said at a rally in Flint that her opponent, Republican attorney general nominee Matt DePerno, supports domestic terrorists like the one who allegedly attacked Paul Pelosi and was looking for the speaker.

“A couple days ago, attorneys from my office, for the first time in Michigan history, convicted three people under our Michigan domestic terrorism laws,” Nessel said. “We need to have an AG that is anti-domestic terrorism. Just today, we found out about the attempted murder of Nancy Pelosi’s husband in his own home. I am running against a person that supports these domestic terrorists.”

In October 2020, state and federal agents announced an alleged plot to kidnap and murder Whitmer by militia-tied men who opposed the Democrat’s COVID-19 health orders. Five men have been convicted to date.

Updated: Three more men convicted of supporting plot to kidnap and kill Whitmer

DePerno has spread far-right conspiracy theories about the plot against Whitmer, tweeting in April that the “Whitmer kidnapping sham was entrapment by the FBI designed to create a false narrative before the [2020] election.” DePerno has not provided evidence of this claim and said he “can’t wait” to start investigating Whitmer over the plot if he’s elected.

The rally at the Flint Farmers’ Market was part of Whitmer’s “Getting Things Done Road Trip” tour of the state. She is facing Republican Tudor Dixon on Nov. 8.

Speakers at the rally frequently returned to themes of various freedoms and democracy itself being on the ballot in this election.

“You guys have a lot to say about the future of freedom in this country,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), listing several different issues ranging from the economy to reproductive health.

Murphy became a national leader in the fight for gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, which took place in the district he represented in the U.S. House at the time.

“I’ve got to talk to you just for one minute about one other kind of freedom. That’s the freedom for our kids to be able to go to school, to be able to walk to the corner store and not be able to fear for their life. That’s freedom, too,” Murphy said. “We’re not asking for too much, to just ask for our kids to have a little peace of mind when they walk outside of their door.”

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, a former governor of Rhode Island whose husband is from Michigan, noted that some voters may be getting burned out after months of negative headlines.

“I took a day off work to come to Michigan not just to see my in-laws, but to fight for democracy,” Raimondo said. “It is so real. I know we’re all sick of politics and political TV and the whole thing, I get that. But you’ve got to dig deep.”


U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Twp.), who is up against Republican Paul Junge in the 8th District, noted that even if people choose not to vote, the results of the election could still have an impact on their lives.

“We have to explain to them that just because they don’t want to get involved in government – and this year is a real good example of it – just because they might not want to get involved, does not mean government’s not going to get involved with you,” Kildee said. “We have the potential of the government getting so involved with you that the most personal decisions will be made by the government, not by you.”

Nessel also addressed a lawsuit filed by Republican secretary of state nominee Kristina Karamo seeking to require voters in Detroit to vote in person, saying Karamo is “trying to disenfranchise the votes of hundreds of thousands of Detroit voters.”

Karamo is trying to oust Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in November.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said the lawsuit is a testament to the power of Black voters.

“The biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans is that their democracy and their vision for Michigan is too small to have a place for everybody,” Gilchrist said. “The reason they attack people voting in Black communities like Flint is because they are afraid of Black voter turnout.”

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) referenced a comment made by Dixon about single working women leading “lonely” lives.

“I don’t know about you, I am proud to be part of the state that gave us those women from Michigan,” McMorrow said. “And we want to make sure that we return Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, we return Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, we return Attorney General Dana Nessel to keep this state moving forward, not taking us backward somewhere into the 50’s where they want single women to feel bad about themselves because they have jobs.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer greets voters following a rally at the Flint Farmers’ Market on Oct. 28, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Whitmer had her second and final debate with Dixon earlier this week. Dixon tweeted Friday that “Gretchen cannot defend her record so she is resorting to gaslighting Michiganders,” calling the governor “a dishonest politician who has time and again passed up opportunities to empower parents and do what is best for students.”

Asked by the Michigan Advance how Dixon’s debate performance compared to her 2018 foe, former Attorney General Bill Schuette, Whitmer said the two are completely different types of opponents.

“No comparison,” Whitmer said. “Bill Schuette and I definitely had our difference of opinions, but we could operate off the same set of facts. I think that’s very different in this cycle.”

Whitmer pointed to Republicans who refuse to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, like Dixon, and the debate over how long schools were closed for in-person learning as examples.

“I think that when people are so prone to exaggerate, it makes a real debate on substance very difficult,” Whitmer told the Advance. “I think it’s actually really destructive. This country is founded on a system of robust debate. We’re better when that happens. But if people are so willing to spread so much misinformation, it’s really dangerous, and it detracts from problem solving and undermines people’s confidence in our institutions.”


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Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a reporting intern with the Michigan Advance. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and studies journalism at Michigan State University.