Just weeks before the 2020 election, the FBI announced that it had thwarted an attempt by rightwing terrorists to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan. At the time, Whitmer was taking intense criticism for her draconian handling of the COVID pandemic. The FBI arrested Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, and Ty Garbin. The case was a propaganda bonanza for the left in general, and Whitmer in particular – who blamed the inflammatory language of Donald Trump for inspiring the would-be kidnappers. Well, the trial has just ended, and it didn’t go quite the way the FBI had predicted. In fact, it completely blew up the MSM narrative.
When the arrests were made in 2020, we were told by the MSM that the plot involved a group of violent militia members, who were upset about Whitmer’s pandemic measures – which included restrictions on travel and assembly. We were assured that the incendiary language of political conservatives inspired the kidnappers. It was reported that the group intended to use firearms and explosives to abduct Whitmer from her lake home, and sneak her out of the state. Fortunately, the FBI thwarted the attempt. It was billed as a shining example of the world’s preeminent law enforcement agency in action.
Whitmer, Pelosi, and Schumer all ran to the microphones on the eve of the election to condemn the rhetoric of conservatives. Joe Biden phoned it in from his basement. It was a perfect media storm, just a month before the election.
But then after the election, the narrative began to unravel. The lead FBI agent, Richard Trask, who signed the charging documents under oath, was fired from the FBI. He had been arrested for assaulting his wife after a drunken swinger’s party.
A few months later, two more agents were removed from the witness list. Special Agent Jayson Chambers was removed from the case because it was discovered that he was attempting to profit from the case. He was launching a private security firm, which would benefit from his work on the Whitmer case.
Special Agent Henrik Impola was also removed from the case after he had been accused of perjuring himself on another case. Apparently, the FBI found it easier to remove him than defend him.
Problems with the paid informants also began to surface. Stephen Robeson was dropped from the witness list because he had since been charged with committing additional crimes during the investigation.
Another informant, Dan Chappel, did testify. However, it was learned that rather than being a passive observer, he had actually worked to recruit participants for the conspiracy, planned many of the group’s activities, and was paid over $60,000 by the FBI for his efforts. He also sent Adam Fox over 1,000 texts between June and October to keep him engaged in the group’s activities. He was egging him on. Doesn’t the left refer to that as inciting violence? Or is it only incitement if done by Trump supporters?
Kaleb Franks and Ty Garbin cut deals and plead guilty to lesser charges to avoid trial. The cases for Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, Adam Fox, and Barry Croft, Jr. all went to trial. All four were represented by public defenders, as they lacked the means to hire private attorneys.
The judge in the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, decided to give the prosecution an assist. He refused to let the defense question any FBI agents about past professional transgressions, apparently because the integrity of the FBI is beyond reproach – except when it isn’t.
Jonker also denied the defense’s request to present FBI texts and recordings of the defendants that would have put the prosecution’s evidence against in context – though he did allow the FBI to present their preferred assortment of texts and recordings. He was concerned that additional material would be hearsay and confusing to the jurors. We can’t allow the jurors to be confused while they’re convicting defendants after all.
The defense team took the highly unusual step of issuing subpoenas to all of the FBI’s agents and informants who weren’t being called by the prosecution. But surprise, they all plead the 5th and refused to testify. The prosecutors refused to grant any of them “use immunity,” and the judge refused to compel the prosecutors to do so. The defense was forced to make their case without questioning the very people who had collected evidence against them. So much for the right to face one’s accuser in court.
On day 13 of the trial, a number of defense witnesses, who had been subpoenaed, arrived at the courthouse. The prosecution was allowed to speak to each of them without the jury present. In each case, the prosecutors warned the witnesses to think carefully before they testified. Over six defense witnesses took the warnings seriously and declined to testify on the grounds of avoiding self-incrimination.
One such witness was Taya Plummer. The prosecutors questioned her about her boyfriend, who had no involvement in the Whitmer case, but was believed to be a member of a militia in another state. The prosecutor, Jonathon Roth, stated that he was not aware of any trouble Ms. Plummer had with the law, but as for how that would play out, he said, “I’d leave that to her.” It was an ominous warning. She plead the 5th and did not testify.
Another witness, Frank Butler, informed the court that he had just received a letter from the Department of Justice, notifying him that he was the target of an investigation. He also informed the court that he would be clamming up. How convenient for the prosecution.
The prosecution considered their treatment of the witnesses simply “playing hardball.” Had the defense done it, it would have been called something different – witness tampering.
The public defenders were left with only limited means to defend their clients. But some truths still came out.
Only 6 men were charged by the federal government for allegedly plotting to kidnap the governor. But there were 12 others involved, who were all on the FBI payroll – either as agents or paid informants. By my math, that’s two thirds of those involved in the plot, being paid by the federal government. Sure, nothing suspicious about that.
The defendants lacked either the mental or financial means to pull off the plot (the FBI referred to the supposed ringleader, Fox, as “Captain Autism”). To keep the plot going, until the arrests were made, virtually all of the planning and organizing of the plot ended up being done by the FBI or it’s paid employees. In fact, FBI assets had actually recruited some of the conspirators.
Evidence presented by the prosecution was highly suspect, or downright misleading. For example: the jury was shown undercover video of the conspirators casing the Whitmer lake home. There was even video of their truck in the home’s driveway. Except all of the occupants of the truck were either agents or informants. None of the defendants were involved in casing the Whitmer home, because they had gotten lost that night. The only people who actually cased the home were on the FBI payroll!
At the conclusion of the trial, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted. The jury was unable to reach a verdict for Adam Fox or Barry Croft – they deadlocked.
In the end, prosecutors with unlimited federal resources, and an assist from the judge, were unable to win against four public defenders, whose hands were tied behind their backs. Either their case was extraordinarily weak, or the jury was extraordinarily insightful. I choose to believe the latter. I think the outcome of the trial says a great deal about the credibility of the FBI.
The final decision can only be interpreted in one way. The jury afforded no presumption of credibility to the feds. They figured out that the FBI has a new way of doing business:
- Assign a couple of undercover agents
- Hire some shady informants
- Use said informants to recruit a bunch of useful idiots
- Talk those useful idiots into doing something illegal
- Arrest the idiots
- And then run to the media to pat themselves on the back
But the manner in which the jury resolved this case, shows that the public is catching on to the FBI’s new modus operandi. In the future, the FBI can expect less cooperation from the public, and more skepticism from juries. That is the cost of a law enforcement agency going rogue.
But the story doesn’t end there. There’s a connection with the January 6 prosecutions that are currently underway. The Whitmer kidnapping investigation was overseen by Stephen D’Antuono, who ran the Detroit field office. After one agent was fired, two agents were removed for malfeasance, and numerous informants had to take the 5th rather than testify, did D’Antuono suffer any career setback? Nope! He was promoted and put in charge of the Washington field office just 3 months before the January 6 incident. He is responsible for the investigation of the insurrection – that wasn’t really an insurrection, but did have a number of mysterious people encouraging the crowd to enter the Capital. Curious, no?
This article was first published by The Blue State Conservative.
Author Bio: John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He currently writes at the American Free News Network and The Blue State Conservative. He can be followed on Facebook or reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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