Last fall, six men with ties to right-wing militia groups were arrested for an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The conspiracy, which was hatched in Dublin, Ohio, became an international story and was later regarded as a sort of “spiritual precursor” to the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.
But the plan, as conveyed in an extensive new report by BuzzFeed News, was largely the result of actions taken by FBI informants.The story relies on dozens of interviews, along with court filings, transcripts, and audio recordings, to present a full and vivid picture of how the plan came together and how authorities were intimately involved in its conception and execution. All but one of the defendants in the case have pleaded not guilty and allege that they were set up by the FBI because of their conservative political views.
One informant from Wisconsin allegedly helped organize meetings where the first inklings of the plot surfaced, even paying for hotel rooms and food to entice people to attend. Another undercover agent allegedly advised the group on how to blow up a bridge to aid their getaway and promised to supply them with explosives. An FBI informant who is an Iraq War veteran eventually rose to become second in command of the group, the report said.
According to the FBI, a group of men in Michigan hatched a plan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. But a Buzzfeed News investigative report has revealed new details—particularly the role that FBI informants played in it.https://t.co/u6wvRDNPfG
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) July 23, 2021
Renewing a familiar debate after supposed domestic terrorists have been entrapped by the FBI, the story once again asks if a credible threat was stopped in its tracks? Or would the threat have existed if not for the resources and coaxing of informants working for federal law enforcement? As BuzzFeed notes, critics of this strategy say that the Michigan case is an example of “outrageous government overreach” that radicalizes people and invited conspiratorial thinking in the first place.
Whenever Gretchen Whitmer is trending, I want people to remember that Donald Trump Republican supporters, planned to kidnap and execute her.
Trump 2024 my a$$!
— Change is now (@Do_good2020) July 23, 2021
Lawyers for the men allege that the informants and the undercover agents gained the confidence of the defendants, stirred their anger at Whitmer, and encouraged them to conspire in the plot, even going as far as steering the conversation away from other subjects to how to carry out the kidnapping.
Federal Agents had 12 Confidential Informants. That's a lot of Informants, isn't it? 🤔https://t.co/sycSkt8kuN
— THATISABSURDITY.COM (@AuthorofAbsurd) July 23, 2021
Chris Hayes devoted a segment of “All In” on Thursday to the story. Watch it in full, below.