The FBI allegedly used at least a dozen informants in the Michigan kidnapping case of Gov. Whitmer

Lawyers for the defendants want to know more about the roles and backgrounds of the informants.
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Southfield, Mich., Oct. 16, 2020.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The U.S. government used at least 12 confidential informants to infiltrate a group of armed extremists with an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to a new filing in federal court.

The filing, issued by the legal team of one of the five defendants in the federal case, requests that the prosecutors share additional information about the informants and their relationship with the FBI. 

Last October, the Justice Department announced it had charged six men with conspiracy to kidnap the Democratic governor, in addition to other charges. Five of the men pleaded not guilty and remain imprisoned. The sixth, a man named Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty in January. 

The new filing was delivered alongside more than a dozen new defense motions, providing a window into the developing strategy of those representing the defendants. Several of the defendants' lawyers plan to shape their case around the idea the FBI "induced or persuaded" the men to go along with the kidnapping plot.

According to the DOJ, the men met periodically over a six-month period to train and craft a plan to kidnap Whitmer from a lake house and possibly take her out of state where they would place her on "trial" for being a "tyrant." 

The Whitmer administration's strict COVID-19 restrictions, particularly those on businesses, results in strong backlash from many residents.

Though federal prosecutors have acknowledged using informants to build and bolster their case, court filings have – to date – revealed very little on who the informants are and how they were utilized.

In addition to requesting information about their roles and identities, one attorney has requested that the trial, set to begin in October, be moved out of the Western District of Michigan due to "press coverage of (and participation in) this matter," that "has corrupted the potential atmosphere to the point that Mr. Franks (his client) will be denied a fair trial in Michigan."