Six men have been charged by federal authorities with allegedly plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home before November’s presidential election, court papers revealed Thursday.
The investigation that led to the case began in early 2020 when “the FBI became aware through social media that a group of individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components,” court records show.
Charged in the case are five Michigan residents, Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, and a Delaware man, Barry Croft.
The defendants were arrested on Wednesday night, according to U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge.
Several men were arrested as they met in Michigan to pool money to buy explosives, Birge said.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the top state law enforcement official, told NBC News that, “There’s more to come.”
“Many more defendants and charges from our office,” Nessel said.
Court documents indicate that seven or more other people were involved in discussions with the defendants that were detailed by an FBI complaint.
Whitmer earlier this year drew the ire of President Donald Trump, other conservatives and members of militia groups for strict her stay-at-home orders issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The president in April tweeted “Liberate Michigan!”
That same month, thousands of demonstrators, some of whom were armed, protested Whitmer’s orders at the state capitol in Lansing.
A criminal complaint that includes an FBI agent’s affidavit laying out the case against the six men says that at a meeting in July, the men allegedly “discussed attacking a Michigan State Police facility, and in a separate conversation after the meeting,] Garbin suggested shooting up the Governor’s vacation home,” court documents say.
At at July 27 meeting with a confidential FBI source, Fox discussed “their best opportunity to abduct Governor Whitmer,” which would be “when she was arriving at, or leaving, either her personal vacation home or the Governor’s official summer residence,” and FBI agent wrote in an affidavit.
Fox then said that after kidnapping Whitmer, the group “would remove her to a secure location in Wisconsin for ‘trial,’ ” the affidavit said
Fox allegedly said that day, “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f— Governor. Just grab the b–. Because at that point, we do that, dude — it’s over,” court documents allege.
“On several occasions, Fox has expressed his intention and desire to kidnap Governor Whitmer before November, 3, 2020, the date of the national election,” the FBI agent wrote.
And on Sept. 30 Fox phoned confidential FBI source and “discussed purchasing a taser for use in the kidnapping operation,” the agent wrote.
Fox told the informant that his co-defendants in the case “were aware of the $4,000 cost” of that taser, the agent wrote.
“On October 2 … Fox confirmed he purchased an 800,000 volt taser in an encrypted chat message with” the FBI’s source, the agent wrote.
A court filing says that Fox had “reached out to a militia group” based in Michigan after the men decided they needed to increase their numbers.
The investigation that led to the arrests involved multiple confidential human sources and undercover FBI personnel.
A press conference on the case is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The case came to light shortly after Trump, during an interview on Fox Business, bragged about having won Michign in the 2016 presidential election, and criticized Whitmer.
“And we should win it again because I brought so much business there, because she’s the lockup queen,” Trump said of Whitmer.
“What she has done to that place is horrible. She’s locked it up. She’s got people like living in prison. The courts overturned her, they said what you are doing is unconstitutional.
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