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Michigan Speaker Lee Chatfield Criticizes Governor for Not Warning Lansing Lawmakers about Plot Against the Capitol

Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield sounded off on Governor Gretchen Whitmer in an open letter Sunday.

In it, he expressed frustration that Lansing lawmakers weren’t notified about the threats against the capitol. He criticized the governor for not warning legislators despite knowing of a possible threat to their lives.

On Thursday, 13 men were charged for allegedly planning to take the governor hostage and overthrow her administration.

“I just had a simple question as to why there wasn’t communication between Michigan State Police and our local law enforcement in the capitol in the house…in our debriefing with the chief sergeant at arms in the Michigan House of Representatives, he was not even made aware,” Speaker Chatfield told 9&10 News.

Chatfield says he thinks the parties need to communicate to avoid this type of situation.

“We had people coming into work every single day for the past several months, apparently while there was a plot to storm the capitol. I think there needs to be communication and I think there can be better cooperation as we look forward,” he said.

The governor’s communications director released a statement on behalf of Governor Whitmer who said she “won’t be distracted by the Speaker’s partisan attacks”

Speaker Chatfield’s Letter reads:

“Governor Whitmer,

We need to cooperate more. A better message needs to be sent. And now that a couple days have gone by since the plot to attack us both has passed, there are several points that I believe need to be made and questions that need to be asked.

Why weren’t we in the Legislature warned of the plot to take hostages at the Capitol? The plot by these terrorists was against us, too. Why weren’t House sergeants warned? You knew, and we weren’t even given a warning. We had people working in the building every day doing essential work, and their lives matter, too.

I am also alarmed the Lieutenant Governor recently blamed Michigan Republicans for the evil plans of these unstable men. That accusation is inflammatory and untrue, and it does nothing to solve this problem. You chose to blame President Trump instead. The truth is, I started getting death threats to my family at my home the day you said my legislative actions would kill people. Please realize that.

But you should also know that others in the Legislature have been threatened, too. They’ve received threats, letters and calls to their homes. These threats have been to both Republicans and Democrats, but they aren’t given security. They don’t have the state resources to build million dollar fences at their homes. And we were also targeted in these evil plots. That’s why to overcome this, it will take a unified message and not political talking points or partisan finger pointing. It will take leadership.

Now, I’ve been critical of many of your decisions this year during COVID-19. I’ll admit that. I’ve agreed with some decisions, too. It’s important we have these debates. It makes us stronger. It ensures all voices in our state are heard. It’s how our process was designed to work. But we need to do it the right way. Blanket, partisan blame is wrong. It simply further divides us and causes more political strife.

Hatred and violence are wrong, and that’s why I’ve continually denounced it. And I agree, it’s time to tone down the partisan rhetoric and turn “the heat down” as you’ve said. Will you do the same for President Trump? You’ve arguably been his biggest critic this year in the country. You even fundraised this week off this plot, now making it political, which is sad.

Will the Lieutenant Governor turn it down with the entire Republican Party, millions of whom are his constituents? This wasn’t standing tall. It was cheap. We can do this, but we have to make this decision together. Let’s back up our words with actions.

Please know that I am praying for the good health and constant safety of you and your family. I hope you are of mine too. And I hope you will truly and finally allow us to work together to protect the lives and livelihoods of everyone who calls Michigan home. I’m ready. I hope you are, too.”