MICHIGAN- A shocking new revelation has come about in the case of five defendants arrested in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).
According to BuzzFeed, the federal government in the form of the FBI used at least a dozen confidential informants to infiltrate the group involved in the scheme, according to a federal court filing on Monday.
In the filing from the attorney of one of the five defendants in the case, prosecutors are being asked to release information about those twelve informants, including their relationship with the FBI as well as what role if any they played in developing the case.
The filing was among some 15 new defense motions filed by defense attorneys. Other requests are for a change in venue, motions to suppress evidence gathered in a search warrant, and a request to try at least one of the defendants separately.
Taken in totality, the filings indicate the course defense attorneys may be pursuing in the case, with at least some of them indicating they plan to pursue a defense that the FBI had “induced or persuaded” the defendants to go along with the plot.
Last October, the plot to allegedly kidnap Whitmer, one of the most dictatorial of US governors during the COVID-19 pandemic, was revealed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
The announcement that six men had been charged in an alleged kidnapping conspiracy involving Whitmer went viral. Five of the men charged—Barry Croft, Adam Fox, Daniel Harris, Kaleb Franks, and Brandon Caserta—have all pleaded not guilty and are currently being held without bail.
The sixth suspect, Ty Garbin pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the case last January. It is unknown if prosecutors made a plea deal with him to gain his cooperation.
The DOJ said the defendants had met over a six-month period last year, where they had developed the scheme to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home, then removing her out of state where she would be put on “trial” for being a “tyrant.” The plot was derailed before it was executed when the DOJ arrested the alleged plotters.
In addition to the six, eight other men were charged under the state’s anti-terrorism laws for providing material support to the defendants. All but two of the defendants live in Michigan, and at least half of the defendants are members of the militant Wolverine Watchmen, a militant group which has been associated with the Three Percenters, a militia group, BuzzFeed said.
The flurry of defense motions came Monday since it was the deadline for such motions in the case.
Federal prosecutors have admitted to using informants in the case, however thus far their activities and identities have been closely held, with the exception of one who testified in March.
Thus far, the DOJ has provided ID numbers connected to 12 confidential informants, however with only one exception has refused to provide background on how they were recruited, what compensation if any they received from the FBI, where they are based or their names, according to Franks’ attorney.
The attorney, Scott Graham said that such information is vital in “preparation of a defense to the charges.”
Franks has asked for his case to be moved out of the Western District of Michigan, claiming “press coverage of (and participation in) this matter has corrupted the potential trial atmosphere to the point that Mr. Franks will be denied a fair trial in Michigan.”
In claiming media involvement in the case, Graham specifically identified a motion filed by BuzzFeed seeking to obtain access to exhibits revealed at a hearing relative to the case in January and cited the risk of “prejudice in this case based on the extensive, negative pervasive press coverage of the allegations.”
In addition to the change of venue, Graham has also requested that Franks be tried separately, primarily because he isn’t facing a bomb charge that was added to the case earlier this year.
That particular count, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, was applied to three of the other defendants in the case, who allegedly attempted to build explosive devices or procure bomb-making materials.
Graham noted that by combining the cases, potential commentary by the government in court about that particular charge “will certainly go far in frightening jurors and eliciting emotional decisions from them.”
An attorney for Croft on Sunday filed a motion, claiming the government had provided over 5,000 duplicate files as it shared evidence, with at least 15 copies of the same audio recording. That, he said significantly increases the burden on the defense.
Croft’s attorney, Joshua Blanchard, also asked the court to exclude evidence that was secured from Croft’s Delaware home during an October search, claiming they were outside the scope of the warrant. Included in those items included a 1-kilogram silver bar, a handwritten note cipher, and “Mr. Croft’s hat.”
Apparently, Croft is allegedly known among Three Percenters of wearing a tri-corner hat much like those worn during the American Revolution.
Law Enforcement Today has previously reported on the Whitmer case and possible FBI involvement. For more on that, we invite you to:
The following contains editorial content by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI- Last week, the mainstream media breathlessly reported that “right wing extremists” had launched an effort to kidnap the far-left governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer.
Of course Whitmer seized on those reports, blaming President Donald Trump’s “extremist rhetoric” for inflaming people to the point where they were going to take Whitmer hostage. However, details have emerged which may derail the narrative.
The Detroit Free Press reported on a bail hearing that took place on Tuesday and buried deep inside the story is what could be considered an important piece of information, and which may actually show that the “right wing militia” was in fact led to hatch the plot at the behest of one of the FBI informants.
According to defense attorney Scott Graham, he said that it was in fact informants and undercover agents who “pushed” the others to engage in illegal activity.
“One of the most active leaders was your informant,” Graham said.
The defense attorneys contended in their arguments to release the defendants on bail that there had been no probable cause to arrest and charge the suspects, saying that they had no “operational plans to do anything,” and that they had in fact been “engaged in legal activities—including talking in encrypted group chats and practicing military exercises with lawfully owned guns,” according to Graham.
Graham said that the FBI informant who wore wires to the militia meetings acted in more than just the capacity of an undercover observer.
The question became were these militia members victims of an entrapment scheme by the FBI? Certainly that is the narrative that Graham is trying to pursue. Was the FBI trying to provoke a domestic terrorist attack as something of a false flag maneuver, and if so, why?
Clearly, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility after all we have discovered about the FBI’s complicity since 2016 in trying to take down the Trump administration. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently tried to downplay the violent, left-wing group Antifa, while trying to bolster the existence of right wing extremism.
An overwhelming majority of FBI agents are good and honorable people. The same cannot be said about their leadership, with former FBI Director James Comey and former Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe being outed as being intimately tied to the plot to undermine President Trump.
Is it too much to think that perhaps there is more to this “plot” to kidnap Whitmer than meets the eye? Probably not.
We have seen that the so-called “deep state,” the inner cabal of Washington insiders is not above trying to affect a presidential election.
The whole “Russia hoax” fiasco was perpetrated in large part by Comey and willing accomplices in the FBI, such as Peter Strzok and Lisa Paige. Was the FBI trying to manufacture an “October surprise” to influence the upcoming election? Who knows? Possible? Yes.
Still, given what we now know about the FBI and more recently the CIA, it is possible.
When the plot to allegedly kidnap Whitmer went public, the usual suspects in the mainstream DNC media jumped on the opportunity to tie it into President Trump, blaming his so-called “anti-lockdown” and “pro-militia” rhetoric for the plot, even though leaders of the group were by and large anti-Trump.
In speaking to the “plot” in Michigan, Graham offered the argument that there wasn’t in fact a plot to kidnap Whitmer, but it was more along the lines of “military wannabes” who engaged in “big talk.”
“Have you ever dealt with big talkers?” Graham asked an FBI agent during cross examination. “There’s kind of a military-wanna-be theme that runs between the militias.”
Graham was questioning FBI special agent Richard Trask about testimony that claimed a minimum of 13 so-called militia members had plotted to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home and either leave her in the middle of Lake Michigan or take her to Wisconsin where she would be tried for treason.
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Under examination, Trask was asked how the members of the militia had planned on getting Whitmer to Wisconsin.
The agent couldn’t answer the question, and could only say that there were allegedly audio recordings of the suspects saying that they were planning on taking Whitmer to another state, including Wisconsin.
Again, the agent was asked by Graham what the suspects were going to do with Whitmer after leaving her in the lake, only saying that the alleged ringleader of the group, Adam Fox had said they were going to “take her out on a boat and leave her in the middle of Lake Michigan.”
Graham represents Kaleb Franks, 26, who ended up having his bail denied on Tuesday after the judge was convinced he was a danger to society. Two other suspects, Daniel Harris, 23 and Brandon Caserta, 32, were also refused bond.
The remaining bond hearings have been scheduled for Friday, this time for Fox and Ty Garbin, 24.
The five defendants appeared in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, where the case involving Whitmer was disclosed.
In addition, the group had also talked about kidnapping Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, he of the blackface college pictures, as well as one of the suspects—a decorated Marine—allegedly asked his co-conspirators if they wanted to kill a Maine police officer for one of his friends.
Meantime, the defense lawyers claimed that the government has only produced small samples of conversations in the case, and said that the government has no evidence that the accused had any real plan to kidnap Whitmer.
The five men were setup in a scheme to purchase explosives and tactical gear from someone, however when they arrived FBI agents were there instead.
One of the defense attorneys, Gary Springstead, who is representing Garbin said that there is still much more evidence to be presented.
“I haven’t had a full opportunity to review all the evidence,” Springstead said. “I think my co-counsel made good pints that (the evidence presented today) is a snapshot. A lot of quick points in a big time frame. You don’t know what else is happening outside of that time frame.”
“So I’m sure in our investigation (which) we’re going to conduct ourselves, and not rely solely on the federal government to tell us what happened, we’ll try to round out that information and figure out what happened in the times that weren’t captured on tape that weren’t captured in text to put it into fuller context so we can better assess where we stand in the case.”
Springstead also spoke to using an informant in this case is troublesome, especially given the role they played.
“It’s become an issue in certain cases where the informant pushes some of the information, and the court and the government and the defense attorneys have to be leery of that,” he told reporters.
“Because their job is not to assess what the government informant wants them to do, it’s to assess the accused’s intent and what they actually planned on doing.”
Ironically, the Washington Examiner reported that Daniel Harris, 23, one of the so-called “white supremacists” who was involved with the plot, had attended a Black Lives Matter rally in June, telling the Oakland County Times that he was upset about the death of George Floyd and police violence, as reported in the Washington Post.
Harris told the Oakland County Times: “We went to the BLM protest yesterday in Lake Orion to show our support that everyone’s voice should be heard, no matter the color on your skin. Protesting is important to me because it gives us all a voice to be heard.”
Sounds like a white supremacist to us.
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