Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot trial: two men found guilty – USA TODAY

DETROIT — A federal jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a dramatic trial that highlighted the growth violent extremism in America.
The jury deliberated for about eight hours before delivering the guilty verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., who were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison when they are sentenced at a later date.
Fox and Croft were convicted of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to possess weapons of mass destruction. Croft was convicted on an additional weapons charge.
The men were judged by a second, more diverse jury than in the first trial, which ended with no convictions for the government. Two men were acquitted in that trial and the jury deadlocked on charges against Fox and Croft Jr., triggering a mistrial that prompted the government to try again.
The historic case ends with four men going to prison and two men going free, two years after the FBI arrested all six defendants on charges they plotted to kidnap the governor from her vacation home out of anger over her lockdown orders and mask mandates, and blow up a bridge near her home to slow down law enforcement.
“This verdict brings important accountability for perpetrators of violence against public officials,” said former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade. “Bringing these plotters to justice will cause others to think twice before engaging in similar conduct in the future.”
McQuade applauded federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids for “having the courage” to retry the case.
“It would have been easy for them to simply move on to the next case to avoid the possible embarrassment of a second mistrial or acquittal,” McQuade said. “But instead, they fulfilled their duty to protect the public.”
Neither Fox nor Croft had any discernible reaction as U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker read the verdicts, both staring forward and occasionally leaning over to speak to their attorneys. Fox’s mother, who attended every day of the retrial, shook her head in court as Jonker read the verdict.
The defense long argued that this was a case of entrapment, that the defendants were merely tough-talking potheads who were venting about their government, and that rogue FBI agents and informants set them up.
The prosecution, however, argued the men did a lot more than talk — they took action to carry out their plan, including casing Whitmer’s vacation home twice, building explosives, holding secret meetings, and practicing breaking and entering drills in shoot-houses they built that mimicked her cottage.
In the end, the jury sided with the government, delivering a major victory not only to the prosecutors, but to the FBI as the federal agency’s reputation came under assault during this trial, with the defense repeatedly blasting the FBI by calling them liars and manipulators with overreaching powers.
“The defendants in this case believed that their antigovernment views justified violence. Today’s verdict is a clear example that they were wrong in that assessment,” said Special Agent in Charge David Porter, who oversees the FBI office in Grand Rapids.
The jury spent two weeks listening to testimony from FBI agents, informants, and wiretapped conversations from the defendants themselves.
Whitmer praised the guilty verdicts against the two men and warned that violent threats “have no place in our politics.”
Whitmer said threats against officials are a “disturbing extension of radicalized domestic terrorism” and undermine democracy.
Contributing: The Associated Press

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