Prosecutors obtained a second conviction Wednesday in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, gaining another critical witness just weeks before four other men face trial.
Kaleb Franks pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He said he agreed to participate in an astonishing scheme to get the Democratic governor, who was targeted because of her restrictive policies during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. With his plea, Franks joined co-defendant Ty Garbin in admitting guilt and agreeing to help prosecutors at the March 8 trial. Franks faces a prison term, but his cooperation could lead to a lighter sentence in the months ahead.
Seven pages of the 19-page document signed by Franks offer a road map of the plot. It repeatedly mentions his work with the four remaining co-defendants, from firearms training in Wisconsin and Michigan to surveillance of Whitmer’s second home in northern Michigan. Those details are significant because they signal what Franks is willing to testify about when called as a trial witness. He would counter defense claims that the group was entrapped by undercover agents and informants.
Two of the guys arrested in the Whitmer kidnapping plot lived in a house one of Twitter’s resident country club socialists used as a prop for a thread about economic insecurity.
This is what the house looked like a year ago when it was on the market.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@TheRealHoarse) October 9, 2020
Franks said he connected online with the Wolverine Watchmen, a self-styled militia group, in spring 2020, attended a protest and soon learned how to download an encrypted messaging app “to conceal discussion of illegal activity,” according to his plea agreement.
For people in my mentions insisting that the men arrested in connection with the Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot were not Trump supporters — this video was posted to YouTube by one of them, Pete Musico pic.twitter.com/KEMxvmhqsj
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 18, 2020
Whitmer pinned some blame on Donald Trump, saying his refusal to denounce far-right groups had inspired extremists across the country. Trump had earlier urged supporters to “LIBERATE” Michigan and two other states led by Democratic governors from stay-at-home mandates.
"I don't know what we can possibly say about a President who claims to be pro law and order, and yet seems to be making excuses and justifications for those who are engaged in domestic terrorism."
Mich. AG Dana Nessel on Trump downplaying the alleged Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot. pic.twitter.com/cUNMKuJqIR
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) October 28, 2020