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An FBI agent who helped uncover a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) testified in court Tuesday that members of anti-government paramilitary groups also discussed abducting Virginia’s governor during a June meeting in Ohio.
Special Agent Richard Trask, who took part in the investigation that led to the arrest of six men, did not mention Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam by name, but said that the men talked about “possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically, issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders.”
Seven other men are facing state-level terrorism charges, Fox News reported. Trask did not elaborate on any alleged plots against Northam.
The Tuesday proceedings in Grand Rapids, Mich., which were presided over by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens, involved bail and detention proceedings for Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, all of whom are from Michigan. The sixth suspect, Barry Croft, is currently incarcerated in Delaware.
Federal authorities caught wind of the plot and then managed to infiltrate the group with informants, according to court documents filed last week. Also, the FBI used undercover agents and conducted covert surveillance against the suspects.
The FBI said it became aware of the plot earlier this year via social media posts indicating that a militia group had begun “discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components,” as members “agreed to take violent action,” a sworn affidavit said.
The group discussed “murdering…tyrants” or “taking” a sitting governor, according to the documents.
In addition to making plans, members of the group conducted surveillance on Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan in August and September. Four of the suspects were to meet last week to pay for explosives and to exchange gear, Fox News added.
Meanwhile, seven members of a militia organization called Wolverine Watchmen, as well as associates of the group, are facing state felony charges for allegedly plotting to storm the Michigan Capitol, as well as providing support for acts of terrorism aimed at triggering a “civil war.”
Charged in state court are: Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico, and Joseph Morrison.
Whitmer and other Democrats have blamed President Donald Trump for the plot, claiming a tweet he sent earlier this year critical of Whitmer’s outsized coronavirus restrictions triggered it.
“This should be a moment for national unity, where we all pull together as Americans to meet this challenge head-on,” Whitmer said last week after the plot was uncovered. “Instead, our head of state has spent the past seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger, and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.”
She went on to claim, falsely, that Trump has “refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups,” adding the “groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action.”
However, some members of the Whitmer plot including Caserta compared Trump to “a tyrant” and called him an “enemy.”
“Trump is not your friend, dude,” Caserta says in a video.
Wow! This is big. Brandon Caserta, one of the ringleaders of the group of men arrested for a plot where the group planned to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, hated President Trump too!
"Trump is not your friend dude"
He says Trump is "a tyrant" & calls President Trump an "enemy". pic.twitter.com/T5paEeTkiJ
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 8, 2020
Another video shows him with an anarchist flag behind him.
This is a video of Brandon Caserta, one of the ringleaders of the group of men arrested for a plot where the group planned to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Caserta has an anarchist flag behind him and in YouTube videos trashes police. He’s not a Republican, he’s an anarchist. pic.twitter.com/J1vE2qGYL7
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 8, 2020
Also, according to the Washington Post, Harris “attended a Black Lives Matter protest in June, telling the Oakland County Times he was upset about the killing of George Floyd and police violence.”
And Null “drove to Flint to pass out water bottles alongside those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement” during the Flint water crisis, the Post said.
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