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Lawyers: FBI lures men to Michigan Governor Whitmer kidnapping plot

Four men were charged with plotting to kidnap the Michigan governor. Jurors heard Wednesday from Gretchen Whitmer that she was influenced by federal agents and informants who targeted her anti-government views.

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Lawyers: FBI lures men to Michigan Governor Whitmer kidnapping plot

They painted the men as talkers, wannabes, and misfits. In one case, they were pot-smoking "misfits" who had been influenced by an FBI informant that he met at protest.

Joshua Blanchard, Attorney, stated that the FBI arranged for an informant with a criminal record to contact Barry Croft Jr. to lure him to militia meetings in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Blanchard claimed that Croft was also driven all the way from Delaware by another informant.

Blanchard stated that there was no plan, no agreement, and no kidnapping during his opening statement at a federal courtroom, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Prosecutors claim Croft and Brandon Caserta, Croft and Daniel Harris devised the plan to snatch Whitmer out of anger at the Democrat's pandemic restrictions.
During his opening statement, Jonathan Roth, Assistant U.S. attorney, stated that the men's actions were more than mere talking. The men had recruited militia and were ready to break into Whitmer’s house, tie her up, and take her away. They also planned to blow up the bridge to prevent police from responding quickly. Roth stated that investigators stopped a "tragedy" in which the men planned to purchase a bomb to detonate a bridge near Whitmer’s home.

He said that jurors would also see and hear social media posts as well as secret conversations full of vulgar, sexist and angry about violence plans and how to defeat a "tyrant."

Two key insiders, Ty Garbin, and Kaleb Frans will be testifying for the government. Roth stated.

"They will tell how real that was. ... He said that they would tell you that they are going to prison because of it.

Roth described Fox, Croft and the conspirators. He stated that the four wanted to establish a "warzone here in Michigan"and asked jurors not to consider the defendants' political views or their desire for a civil war.

Roth stated, "What you have is the defendants planned, prepared, and were ready to enter a woman’s home as she slept in her family's middle of the night. With violence and gunpoint, they would tie her up, and take her from her home." Roth stated, "And to achieve that they would shoot and blow up anyone who got in their path."

Roth opened his opening remarks by turning away from the jurors. He pointed a finger at each defendant and said that they did not just talk, but actually took action to implement their plan. As the courtroom lights dimmed, prosecutors projected photographs of defendants at various stages of the plot on a huge screen.

Roth pointed at Croft again in a gray suit with tie and said that Croft may be a "harmless... middle-school teacher". After Roth said that, a picture showed Croft in camouflage wearing a rifle and clutching it.

The prosecutor stated that he looked quite different back then.

Croft's lawyer said that informants secretly recorded Croft, Croft, and other individuals, and all were "stoned absolutely out-of your-mind stoned."

Blanchard stated that the FBI was supposed to "protect us against dangerous criminals, terrorists." They are also supposed to defend our freedoms. They're expected to have thick skin when doing this. They don't penalize people who say mean things about us, as they are protecting our rights. They are not allowed to target those they are angry at."

Harris and Caserta's lawyers tried to distance themselves from Fox and Croft by emphasizing the fact that Whitmer and Croft didn't travel to northern Michigan to look for Whitmer's house.

Julia Kelly, defense attorney, said that Harris, a veteran was unhappy about the country's direction and attended protests against Whitmer’s stay-home orders as well as rallies for gun rights. Kelly stated that Harris joined the Wolverine Watchmen in order to sharpen his military skills for security work in Afghanistan and not as part of any sinister plot.

Fox's attorney Christopher Gibbons represented him. He said he was homeless and lived in the basement of an industrial vacuum shop. He also used a restaurant bathroom to brush his teeth. Not a mastermind, as the prosecutors claim.

Gibbons stated that Adam Fox didn't commit any crime in the case.

Todd Reineck, an FBI agent, was the first witness. He testified about social media posts made by Fox and Croft during spring 2020. One Facebook video was included in which Fox said: "We have all the numbers." We have the arms. We have the ammunition... we just need to take our country back."

Tuesday Seven men and eleven women were chosen to serve as jurors. Six of the jurors are alternates. However, they will not know until the trial ends.

Whitmer began to exchange teasing words with Donald Trump in 2020 over his response to COVID-19. The critics of Whitmer, , were meanwhile regularly protesting at the Michigan Capitol. They blocked streets around the statehouse, and legaly brought semi-automatic rifles into it.

According to the FBI, it stopped the kidnapping plot by and led to the arrests of six men in October 2020. Franks and Garbin insist that no one was influenced by agents or other undercover informants.

Whitmer, who is running for reelection in 2018, rarely speaks publicly about the case. She is not expected to attend the trial. She has blamed Trump of inflaming mistrust and fomenting anger over coronavirus restraints and refusing condemnation hate groups and right-wing extremeists such as those who were charged in the plot. She claimed that he was complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

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