Extremists charged in plot to kidnap governor after Trump urged 'Liberate Michigan'

13305
Advertisement

An alleged conspiracy to overthrow and abduct Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer involved an elaborate plan to 'just grab the b****,' according to charging documents.

Six men have been charged in a violent plot to overthrow and kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Over the past six months, Donald Trump repeatedly cheered on right-wing efforts to undermine her and her safety protocols.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation filed the charges in federal court on Thursday.

The six men charged in the alleged conspiracy are Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta. 

Advertisement

In early June, Croft, Fox and around 13 people from other states gathered in Dublin, Ohio, to discuss creating a society "where they could be self-sufficient," the charging documents said.

In another meeting, Fox said he needed 200 men to "storm the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, and take hostages, including the governor," according to the documents. He said the group would then try Whitmer for treason and execute the plot before the November elections. 

Fox proceeded to lay out an elaborate plan. He said their best opportunity to abduct Whitmer would be when she was arriving at or leaving her personal vacation home or the governor's official summer residence  — both located in the Western District of Michigan, according to the document. He suggested recruiting a realtor to get the exact location of her vacation home, as well as plumbers, electricians, engineers and other "operators" to help "refine their strategy," the document said. 

Fox described the plot in vulgar terms 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," according to the documents. 

At least one of the alleged conspirators reportedly used Trump's rhetoric that Democrats wanted to repeal the Second Amendment and disarm the public.

In May, officials thwarted "credible threats" to assassinate Whitmer. Robert S. Tesh faced a felony charge of false report of threat of terrorism. 

Right-wing groups have been highly critical of Whitmer for implementing safety requirements to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In April, Trump egged them on, tweeting, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"

In May, after armed mobs stormed the state capitol to protest her stay-at-home order, Trump urged Whitmer to accede to their demands. 

"The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire," he tweeted. "These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."

Trump's extremist rhetoric has fueled right-wing violence since his entry into politics.

In August, a pro-Trump teenager was charged with shooting and killing two people and injuring another during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. BuzzFeed reported that the teen had been just feet from Trump at a January campaign rally in Iowa.

Last year, a right-wing extremist shot and killed 23 and injured 22 others at Walmart in El Paso, Texas, allegedly motivated by both anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican hatred. His "manifesto" contained terms Trump has popularized to drum up division, including "fake news," "open borders," and "invasion" by Latinx immigrants.

In October 2018, another Trump supporter mailed pipe bombs to several Trump critics and Democratic officials. Trump initially praised the arrest, but then complained that the news coverage of "'Bomb' stuff" hurt Republicans' momentum in the days before the midterm elections.

Published with permission from The American Independent Foundation.