FBI agent Richard Trask testified during a preliminary hearing that the group discussed eliminating incumbent governors due to their “coronavirus-related lockdown orders.”
“They discussed possible goals, taking an incumbent governor, specifically the governors of Michigan and Virginia, on closing orders,” Trask said.
“The agreement at the time was to potentially kidnap an incumbent governor and remove him from office,” he added.
The FBI obtained this information at a June 6 meeting in Dublin, Ohio. One person who attended the meeting presented himself to the authorities “based on concerns (about) some of the directions the group was headed and potential violence.”
Six people were charged federally with kidnapping conspiracy and seven others, associated with the paramilitary group “Wolverine Watchmen”, were indicted by the state, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.
Governor Northam’s office released a statement saying the FBI alerted key members of the governor’s security team during the investigation.
“Under the security protocols for highly confidential information, neither the governor nor other members of his staff have been notified. At no time has the governor or his family been in imminent danger. Enhanced security measures have been taken for the governor. Northam and his family for some time and they will stay, “press secretary Alena Yarmosky said.
“Here’s the reality: President Trump called on his supporters to ‘FREE VIRGINIA’ in April, just like Michigan. In fact, the president regularly encourages violence against those who disagree with him. Getting out of this White House is serious and potentially deadly consequences. It has to stop, “Yarmosky said.
How the plot was born
During meetings in Dublin, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in a rural courtyard in Munith, Michigan, the group allegedly plotted to take violent action against the state, conducted tactical training, and unsuccessfully attempted to make bombs, according to court documents.
The six accused by the federal government are Adam Fox, 37, Ty Garbin, 24, Kaleb Franks, 26, Daniel Harris, 23, Brandon Caserta, 32, and Barry Croft, 44, a resident of Delaware.
The seven people accused by the state are Paul Bellar, 21, Shawn Fix, 38, Eric Molitor, 36, Michael Null, 38, William Null, 38, Pete Musico, 42, Joseph Morrison, 26. They face a variety of firearms and accusations of terror.
Fox wanted to carry out the kidnapping plot on election day and discussed police vehicles with incendiary bombs to prevent law enforcement from responding, Trask said Tuesday.
Court documents say the FBI instructed a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio on June 6 for a meeting with Croft, Fox, and about 13 others.
“They discussed different ways to achieve this, from peaceful efforts to violent actions … Several members talked about killing ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ an incumbent governor,” according to the complaint.
On June 14, a second confidential informant confirmed that Fox was introduced to the group leader and they met in Grand Rapids. The whistleblower recorded audio conversations with Fox in which he allegedly needed “200 men” to storm the Lansing Capitol and take hostages, including Whitmer, according to the criminal complaint.
Fox allegedly explained that they would try the Michigan governor for “treason” and said they would execute the plan before the November 2020 election.
On June 20, Fox, Garbin, and others met at the Fox Company in Grand Rapids, where attendees met in the basement accessed by a trapdoor hidden under a carpet on the main floor, according to the criminal complaint.
Attendees discussed plans to attack the Michigan State Capitol, thwart law enforcement first responders and use ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles. Attendees also discussed plans for an additional meeting during the first weekend of July, when they would also conduct firearms and tactical training, “according to the criminal complaint.
The conspirators conducted surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home on two occasions in late August and September, according to the complaint. According to the FBI, Croft and Fox discussed detonating explosive devices to divert police from the vacation home area.
The group also met on a rural property in Munith for what officials have called tactical training. Trask said Tuesday that this included firearms training, medical training, and an attempt to detonate an improvised explosive device.
Earlier this month, Fox confirmed to others in the group that he had purchased a taser, which he had previously discussed for use in the kidnapping plot, the court document said. The FBI said Fox, Garbin, Harris and Franks had planned to meet Tuesday to pay for explosives and swap tactical equipment.
CNN’s Christina Carrega, Veronica Stracqualursi, Josh Campbell, Julia Jones, and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.