In trial for plot to kidnap Whitmer, jury hears defendant in tape covertly made by FBI informants

Defense attorneys have said their clients were braggarts and had no means to pull off such a crime

Updated: March 10, 2022 - 7:04pm

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Prosecutors on day-two of the trial for the men charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday played a covertly recorded tape in which one defendant apparently discussed a plan to abduct the governor.

The recording was made during in July 2020 and includes Barry Croft Jr., one of the four defendants, seeming to describe having a team to nab Whitmer as another team possibly uses explosives to deter law enforcement.

Prosecutors say the four defendants – Croft, Adam Fox, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta – planned to kidnap the Democrat governor from her Michigan vacation home because they thought her COVID-19 restrictions were overreaching.

They also allegedly planned to blow up a nearby bridge to slow the police response.

Defense attorneys in early court statements said their clients were braggarts and had no means to pull off such a crime. They also said FBI agents tricked them into the kidnap plot.

The audio played Thursday in the federal courtroom in Grand Rapids was recorded by a confidential informant for the FBI and marked the first time the jury heard a defendant talking specifically about abducting Whitmer, according to the Associated Press.

In other recordings, jurors heard what prosecutors said was Croft and Fox talking at a June 6, 2020, meeting of anti-government activists in Ohio. 

Fox is heard on audio, recorded by an FBI informant, telling the group: "You need to take hostages."

FBI agent Todd Reineck testified earlier Thursday that the men were arrested in fall 2020 because there was a "real concern they might obtain real live explosives," also according to the Associated Press. 

He also testified about social media posts and messages by the men, including some made months before any contact from FBI agents or informants, particularly one in which Fox is seen waving two AR-style assault rifles at a camera.

Fox's attorney, Christopher Gibbons, questioned Reineck about the process of paying informants in cash and the choice of electronic devices used. 

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker then took the unusual step of allowing attorneys to address an entrapment defense.

Entrapment is a high-risk defense strategy because it’s a concession that crimes may have been committed, the wire service also reports

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