Attorneys accuse FBI of using ‘parlor tricks’, drugs against defendants as Whitmer kidnapping plot thickens

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Several of the suspects accused of orchestrating the attempted kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 are reportedly now claiming that the FBI had used drugs and “parlor tricks” to entrap them.

Their attorneys argued in court Wednesday that all their talk about kidnapping Whitmer had just been “stoned crazy talk,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

“This militia was a group of pot smokers who talked a big game, [defense attorney Joshua] Blanchard said, and the government knew it, arguing the FBI is supposed to protect people, ‘not catch people who say stupid stuff when they are high,'” the Free Press reported following a hearing Wednesday.

“‘This is all parlor tricks,’ defense attorney Chris Gibbons [added], arguing his client was never involved in any kidnap plot, but was a broke, ‘misfit’ big talker who was upset about the pandemic, and easily influenced by the informants.”

But instead of leaving the suspects alone, the FBI sent informants into the group to take their trash-talking and transform it into a full-fledged plot, or so the suspects have claimed. And indeed, some of the evidence suggests they may be right.

As previously reported, in early March of 2020, a military veteran named Dan stumbled on the Wolverine Watchmen militia’s Facebook page and, troubled by the alleged discussions he saw, informed the FBI. The federal agency in turn recruited him as an informant and dispatched at least 12 additional agents to also act as informants.

According to a report published two months ago by The New York Times, “[w]ithin weeks of joining” the group as an informant, Dan began overseeing military-level training exercises.

“The defense argues this case is all about entrapment, and explained to the jury how it plans to prove that the FBI ran the whole show, used rogue undercover informants and agents to egg on the defendants and entice them to say and do things they wouldn’t have otherwise,” the Free Press noted in its own report.

Or as one of the defense attorneys reportedly put it Wednesday, “The FBI directed it all.”

During the trial, the attorneys also gave a couple of examples of the seemingly threatening rhetoric that had compelled the FBI to target the suspects.

“Maybe we should go hide in the woods and go bark and the governor — she’ll know the animals were against her,” Blanchard said, adding that it’s obvious that the comment wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.

The suspects also reportedly talked about hooking Whitmer up to a kite and then flying her over a lake and playing loud music outside of her home.

The prosecution meanwhile dismissed the idea that the suspects had been tricked into participating in a plot against Whitmer.

“They chose this plan. They chose this crime — because they wanted it,” Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Roth reportedly argued, adding that several of the group’s original members had wound up leaving because they didn’t like the direction the group was headed.

According to the Free Press, he also “told jurors that giving someone a ride to an event is not entrapment, nor is it if a defendant is willing to commit the crime.” And he “noted that [suspect Barry] Croft has a tattoo that shows his commitment to a ‘second civil war,’ and argued that no one forced him to do anything.”

Croft is accused of having helped “start the kidnapping plot … in a conversation with Adam Fox — the accused Michigan ringleader.”

“They began plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan. [Fox] said the whole point is ‘we’re sending a message to them that if we can get her, we can get you,” Roth reportedly argued Wednesday.

Blanchard, who’s specifically defending Croft, pushed back by making the case that the FBI’s targeting of the suspects was driven in part by their resentment of his client.

“According to Blanchard, Croft initially came under investigation by the FBI in 2017, when the FBI noticed that Croft was criticizing the FBI on Facebook. Croft believed the FBI had one of his friends killed, his lawyer said, and was investigated as a result, but nothing came of it,” according to the Free Press.

“Then came the 2020 FBI investigation of the Wolverine Watchmen, the militia group at the center of this case. Prosecutors say Croft joined this group and planned to kidnap the governor, though his lawyer says there was no such plan. … Blanchard alleges the government targeted his client specifically for criticizing Whitmer on Facebook.”


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Vivek Saxena


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