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Agent: Gov. Whitmer kidnap plotters ‘excited’ about bomb

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KTOO Public Media
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KTOO Public Media

Would-be kidnappers watch video of SUV explosion while preparing to blow up a bridge.

Two men described as leaders of a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were thrilled as they watched videos of powerful explosives, a few hours before driving north to scout her vacation home, an FBI agent testified Monday.

In summer 2020, Tim Bates was working undercover as “Red” when he fooled the group into believing that he knew someone in the mining industry who could get high-grade explosives.

A bomb is a key part of the government’s case against Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, who are charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer because of her tough COVID-19 policies and their broad disgust with government.

Prosecutors say Fox especially wanted to blow up a bridge near Whitmer’s second home in northern Michigan to thwart any police response to a kidnapping.

Bates, who was secretly recording conversations, said he showed up for a training weekend in Luther, Michigan, and shared videos of explosives blowing up an SUV.

“Mr. Fox was excited about what he saw in the video,” Bates told the jury, adding that Croft “was also excited.”

Traveling in three vehicles, Bates said he, Fox, Croft and others drove to Elk Rapids to look at Whitmer’s house on Birch Lake and inspect a nearby bridge.

Why? asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler.

“To kidnap her,” Bates testified.

Croft told the group that he “needed to take a nap ... to have energy” if they were going to abduct Whitmer that night, but that wasn’t the plan, Bates said.

Later, after returning to the Luther camp, Fox asked Bates if he would “take an IOU” for the $4,000 explosive, according to a recording.

Monday was the 11th day of trial. Prosecutors plan to finish presenting evidence this week.

Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, two other men who were also arrested in October 2020, have pleaded guilty and were critical witnesses for the government last week.

Garbin said Whitmer’s kidnapping could ignite a U.S. civil war involving antigovernment groups and possibly prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidential election.

Fox talked about snatching the governor “every time I saw him, ” Franks said.

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