Court Battles

Defense seeks dismissal of indictment in Whitmer kidnapping plot case

The lawyers representing the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) last year asked a judge to dismiss the case, pointing to what they called “egregious overreaching” on the part of federal agents and informants.

“The key to the government’s plan was to turn general discontent with Governor Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions into a crime that could be prosecuted. The government picked what it knew would be a sensational charge: conspiracy to kidnap the governor,” wrote Scott Graham, the attorney representing five men charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

The five defendants are Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.

According to federal prosecutors and the FBI, Croft and Fox agreed to gather individuals to take part in their plot to overthrow the Michigan state government and kidnap Whitmer. As part of their plans, Fox reached out to Michigan militia groups that were already on the FBI’s radar, authorities said.

The FBI said it had a recorded phone call between Fox and other individuals in which he discussed needing “200 men” to help storm the Michigan state Capitol and take multiple hostages including Whitmer.

However, Graham claimed his in his 20-page motion that there was “no plan to kidnap, no operational plan, and no details about how a kidnapping would occur or what would happen afterward.” He went on to argue government agents and their informants had “concocted” the kidnapping plot to hold against the defendants.

Graham referenced a 1992 Supreme Court case — Jacobson v. United States — in which a defendant had been sent solicitations for child pornography by government agents seeking to indict him on related charges.

In that case, the Supreme Court ruled prosecutors were unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Keith Jacobson, the defendant and petitioner of the case, was inclined to purchasing child pornography without the interference of the government, which in this case was the government agents who sent him solicitations to buy such material.

Graham wrote that his clients, like Jacobsen, had been “coaxed, persuaded, cajoled” into a plot by the informants. He pointed to reluctance that some members of group had about kidnapping Whitmer, which he said his clients had echoed.

“This incident shows that there was no predisposition to kidnap Governor Whitmer or anyone else,” wrote Graham, claiming that the government handlers for the informants “pulled the puppet strings the entire time” by having them broach the subject of kidnapping multiple times.

The Hill has reached out to the U.S. attorneys on the case for comment. Whitmer’s office referred all questions about the case to U.S. attorneys or the Department of Justice.

Tags Adam Fox Gretchen Whitmer Gretchen Whitmer Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot Jacobson v. United States Kidnapping Michigan

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