Michigan-based militia members plotted extensively to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home before the Nov. 3 presidential election, stockpiling weapons and explosives and twice staking out her residence, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Thursday that described probable cause to charge six alleged conspirators.
The FBI, relying on confidential sources who recorded conversations and informed on the plot, became aware of the effort through social media chatter early this year and developed detailed insight on the purported plan over the ensuing months.
The FBI had already suspected the militia of plotting to kill police officers, and a member of the group concerned about that plan had agreed to become an FBI source, according to the affidavit.
The plan to kidnap Whitmer was hatched in the basement of a Grand Rapids business in June, according to the FBI filing.
“The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles,” the affidavit indicates. “The attendees also discussed plans for an additional meeting during the first weekend of July when they also would conduct firearms and tactical training.”
The plot ultimately evolved into one in which the conspirators would storm her vacation home, blowing up a nearby bridge and grabbing Whitmer, if not killing her outright, the FBI indicated, citing recordings and internal communications it obtained from the alleged conspirators.
Whitmer, in her first term, has become a national figure this year and was considered by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a potential running mate before he selected Sen. Kamala Harris. Whitmer has drawn the fury of President Donald Trump, who criticized her lockdown measures early in the coronavirus pandemic, tweeting “Liberate Michigan” in all caps on April 17. Trump also criticized Whitmer Thursday morning during a Fox News appearance, labeling her the “lock-up queen.”
Some of the alleged plotters were part of a group that initially met to discuss “creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient.”
“They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions,” per the FBI affidavit. “At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor. The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”
The FBI says it has probable cause to charge six of the plotters: Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. All of the men live in Michigan with the exception of Croft, a Delaware resident.
By mid-July, the plot had evolved to include storming Whitmer’s vacation home.
“Fox said their best opportunity to abduct Governor Whitmer would be when she was arriving at, or leaving, either her personal vacation home or the Governor’s official summer residence,” the FBI affidavit notes, citing an audio recording provided by one of its sources. “Fox described it as a ‘snatch and grab, man. Grab the fuckin’ Governor. Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude — it’s over.'”
The plan included taking Whitmer to…
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