Gov. Whitmer kidnapping defendants also discussed abducting Virginia governor, FBI agent says

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Members of anti-government paramilitary groups allegedly discussed kidnapping Virginia’s governor during a June meeting in Ohio, an FBI agent testified Tuesday during a court hearing in Michigan.

Special Agent Richard Trask was part of the investigation that led to six men being arrested and charged last week with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Seven other men face state terrorism charges, Fox News reported.

Trask did not name Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, during his testimony in a federal courtroom in Grand Rapids. He said members of anti-government groups from multiple states attended the meeting.

“They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders,” Trask said. He said the people at the meeting were unhappy with the governors’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trask did not discuss further planning involving Northam.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens oversaw the bail and detention proceeding in Grand Rapids for Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta — all Michigan residents. The sixth man, Barry Croft, was being held in Delaware, according to Fox News.

The FBI made arrests last week after using confidential sources, undercover agents, and clandestine recordings to foil the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. Some defendants had conducted coordinated surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan in August and September, according to a criminal complaint.

The men were trying to retaliate against Whitmer due to her “uncontrolled power” amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said. They said four of the men had planned to meet last week to pay for explosives and exchange tactical gear.

Separately, seven members of militia group Wolverine Watchmen, or associates of Wolverine Watchmen, face state felony charges for allegedly seeking to storm the Michigan Capitol and providing material support for terrorist acts by seeking a “civil war.” Those individuals charged in state court are: Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison.

 

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