GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP)- Members of anti-government paramilitary groups discussed kidnapping Virginia’s governor during a June meeting in Ohio, an FBI agent testified Tuesday during a court hearing for a group of men accused of plotting to abduct Michigan’s governor.
Agent Richard Trask also revealed new details about investigators’ use of confidential informants, undercover agents and encrypted communication to arrest and charge six men last week in the plot aimed at Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Tuesday’s hearing was to review investigators’ evidence against Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta and to determine if they should be detained before trial. The men are all from Michigan.
A sixth man, Barry Croft, was being held in Delaware.
The FBI discovered the June 6 meeting in Dublin, Ohio, during an investigation of various anti-government groups, leading to the months-long case in Michigan that relied on confidential sources, undercover agents and clandestine recordings to foil the alleged kidnapping conspiracy.
It was not immediately clear whether talk of targeting Virginia’s Democratic governor went beyond the June meeting, and nothing from a criminal complaint or from Trask’s testimony Tuesday indicated that anyone had been charged with plotting against Northam. Trask said members of anti-government groups from “four or five” states attended that meeting, and the complaint noted that Croft and Fox were among the roughly 15 people who were there.
“They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders,” Trask said. He said the people at the meeting were unhappy with the governors’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
During a news conference Tuesday, Northam said he wasn’t going to discuss the alleged plot and stressed that he and his family feel safe with the security the state police provide.
“I’m continuing my work for the commonwealth as I would any other day.”