After two days of deliberations, a jury has returned guilty verdicts for two of the men involved in the 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Adam Fox and 46-year-old Barry Croft, Jr. were convicted of two counts of conspiracy and “attempts to use a weapon of mass destruction.”
Coming four months after a previous jury in the prosecution effort couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict – and the acquittal of 24-year-old Daniel Harris and 33-year-old Brandon Caserta – this is a big win for the Justice Department in their prosecution of domestic terrorists.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the target of the insidious plot, praised the conviction:
“Today’s verdicts prove that violence and threats have no place in our politics and those who seek to divide us will be held accountable. They will not succeed. But we must also take a hard look at the status of our politics. Plots against public officials and threats to the FBI are a disturbing extension of radicalized domestic terrorism that festers in our nation, threatening the very foundation of our republic.”
Gov. Whitmer came under fire from some Michigan residents for her strict coronavirus restrictions during the peak of the pandemic – leading to public criticism by Trump and backlash from right-wing groups.
Several protests were staged throughout the state, including the storming of Michigan’s Capitol building.
Revelations of the plot to kidnap — and possibly torture and murder — a sitting Governor shined a light on the effects of increasingly violent rhetoric coming from Trump allies – and by the then-President himself – contributing to a rise in political violence.
In the summer of 2020, an FBI informant alerted the agency to talk about “killing police,” leading to the investigation into extremist organizations by using undercover agents to infiltrate paramilitary groups on the Dept. of Justice’s radar.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler claims the kidnapping plot was about more than taking Gov. Whitmer hostage over mandates, but a call for war:
“They wanted to set off a second American civil war, a second American Revolution, something that they call the boogaloo. And they wanted to do it for a long time before they settled on Gov. Whitmer.”
Attorneys for Fox and Croft claim their clients were just “big talkers,” despite traveling with several other men to survey Whitmer’s vacation home – two of whom have already pled guilty and testified for the prosecution.
The FBI and the Department of Justice have been on high alert, warning of the increase in domestic terrorism, political threats, and violence in the era of Trumpism. The jury’s conviction of Fox and Croft is a step in the right direction and hopefully will act as a deterrent.
In the words of agent David Porter, head of the western Michigan FBI, “Here in America, if you disagree with your government you have options. What you cannot do is plan or commit acts of violence.”
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick
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