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There are major issues continuing to form with the federal case against defendants charged with allegedly plotting to kidnap Democrat Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Prosecutors already announced in December that they would not call on three FBI agents involved in the case after allegations of personal and professional misconduct. And one informant in the case has been charged with fraud in an unrelated case, also in December, The Washington Examiner reported.
And now, in a pair of stunning filings submitted on Christmas Day and on Wednesday attorneys for the defense showed evidence that they said proves that the FBI and confidential informants “conceived and controlled every aspect” of the plot to kidnap Whitmer.
“These defendants had no desire whatsoever to kidnap anyone,” the attorneys said.
The defendants, who are members of the Three Percenters and Wolverine Watchmen militia groups, would not have planned to kidnap Whitmer or blow up a bridge close to her residence if they were not entrapped by overzealous government agents, the attorneys said as they asked a federal court to dismiss the case.
“The government wouldn’t drop the idea, and the CHSs [Confidential Human Sources] continued to broach plans — despite official government admonitions barring the suggestion of such plans,” the defense attorneys said. “The CHSs’ handlers pulled the puppet strings the entire time.”
New evidence in the defense attorneys’ filings, which include details of communications between FBI agents and their sources embedded in the militia groups, marks another setback for federal prosecutors. Prosecutors previously rejected allegations the defendants were entrapped by the FBI and maintained they were predisposed to carry out the kidnapping scheme.
Prosecutors disclosed earlier in December they would not call on three FBI agents at the center of the kidnapping investigation when the trial begins on March 8. Special Agent Jayson Chambers, who served as a handler for an FBI informant during the investigation, was dropped after Buzzfeed News reported he owned a private investigative firm unbeknownst to the FBI, in which he tried to parlay his law enforcement experience into multimillion-dollar private contracts.
Another FBI handler involved in the investigation, Henrik Impola, was dropped after defense attorneys alleged he committed perjury in an unrelated case. Prosecutors said the allegation was unfounded but said in a Dec. 17 filing they would not call on him during the trial.
The former lead agent in the case, former FBI agent Richard Trask, was fired from the agency in September after he was charged with beating his wife upon his return from a swingers party. Trask also posted rants against former President Donald Trump on social media during the investigation.
Also in December, a key FBI informant who allegedly helped the FBI recruit targets and organize meetings to further the kidnapping scheme was charged in Wisconsin for fraud in an unrelated case. The informant, Stephen Robeson, also helped finance travel expenses for people to attend events linked to the kidnapping plot, Buzzfeed News reported.
The transcripts allege to show that the defendants did not want to go along with a kidnapping plot and that the government informants browbeat the idea into them again and again.
Adam Fox, who allegedly masterminded the scheme, said the idea was planted in his head by an FBI informant known as “Big Dan.”
Attorneys for the defense said that Dan was paid $50,000 for his services and the defense said that the funds were used to finance travel for the defendants to go to a “field training exercise” in Wisconsin.
“The government conceived and controlled every aspect of the alleged plot,” the defense attorneys said. “Three months after the government proposed kidnapping, and two months after the defendants’ strident repudiation of the idea, and a month after the defendants reiterated their repudiation, the government’s agents continued to push to shape a kidnapping plan, even trying to elevate it to murder.”