Law enforcement authorities have arrested 13 people who plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and also carry out other domestic attacks in the state capitol, prosecutors said.
The group, whose plots spanned several months of planning and covert meetings, had schemed a well-laid plan to storm the governor’s vacation home and kidnap her, and subsequently have her face trial in an unspecified location in Wisconsin. The FBI disclosed that the group had planned to achieve their sordid objectives before the November 3 presidential elections.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told pressmen that the combined efforts of law enforcement agents at both state and federal levels had also uncovered detailed plans to endanger the lives of law enforcement officers, government officials, and the general public.
Six men were charged at the federal level with plots to kidnap the governor at her vacation home. In contrast, seven other people, with links to the militia group, “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged at the state level for planning to breach the state capitol and start a war. The two groups trained and met together frequently, according to state police.
The six charged by federal prosecutors are Adam Fox, 37; Ty Garbin, 24; Kaleb Franks, 26; Daniel Harris, 23; Brandon Caserta, 32; and Barry Croft, 44. The seven being charged by state prosecutors are Paul Bellar, 21; Shawn Fix, 38; Eric Molitor, 36; Michael Null, 38; William Null, 38; Pete Musico, 42; Joseph Morrison, 42.
The FBI said it started surveillance and investigations into the kidnapping plot when the group planned on meeting to fund their plot, including buying explosives and tactical equipment. At the meeting, the men discussed how the excesses of Governor Whitmer had to be controlled. They cited her unbridled power and how she needed to be put in check.
With the help of secret informants and undercover agents who broke into their ranks, law enforcement agencies were able to learn about the group and all of its activities, thereby stopping them in time.
Governor Whitmer had faced severe criticism because of the tough way she reportedly handled the coronavirus pandemic. She especially drew the ire of President Donald Trump, who criticized her on several occasions. The president had, at some point, declared that she “liberate Michigan.”
The governor’s strict lockdown measures were implemented to the letter. Although these measures helped reduce the spread of the disease in the state, it drew reactions from protesters and militia groups who turned out to demonstrate with arms in the streets. Some protesters waved Confederate flags and chanted Nazi sentiments.
Governor Whitmer, in reacting to threats on her life by the extremist group, thanked law enforcement agents for saving her life. She said it is unlike anything she had seen before. The governor was “incredibly grateful and humbled” by the work of the law enforcement officers, who had put their lives at risk to keep her and her family safe. She further reiterated that although she knew the job would be hard and came with risks, it was unlike anything she had imagined.
The governor took the opportunity to berate President Trump, saying his stance and body language on white supremacy groups was emboldening the groups. She said the president had a chance to denounce extremist far-right groups at the presidential debate but flopped.
However, the president fired back at Whitmer through his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, saying the governor was sowing seeds of discord. In a series of tweets, Trump attacked the governor, accusing her of doing a terrible job. Trump said Whitmer made exceptions for her husband’s boating activities when the state groaned under her strict lockdown measures.