GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. >> The trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer because of her COVID-19 restrictions did not resume as planned today after someone tested positive for the virus.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker did not identify the person in his order Sunday, saying only that an “essential trial participant” tested positive over the weekend. The trial is set to resume on Thursday.
The trial, which involves 18 jurors, four defendants and a number of lawyers and support staff, started last week in a windowless courtroom in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The jury heard some evidence Wednesday and Thursday before heading home for the weekend.
Masks were optional in court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Roth was the only attorney to carry such a person and removed it only to make his opening statement to the jury and to question witnesses.
The defendants – Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta – did not wear masks, nor did the judge. A jury had a mask.
Undercover FBI agents and informants are expected to testify in the coming weeks along with two men, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, who have pleaded guilty to a plan to kidnap Whitmer because of her harsh policies in the first months of the pandemic. The trial can last more than a month.
On Thursday, jurors heard for the first time a recording of one of the men specifically talking about kidnapping Whitmer, a Democrat. One could hear Croft say that it should be “a quick, precise grip.”
It was an early refusal from prosecutors to defense allegations that the men were somehow captured or tricked by the FBI into participating in a kidnapping conspiracy that would otherwise not have fallen on them.
In 2020, Whitmer mocked then-President Donald Trump over his administration’s response to COVID-19. Her critics regularly protested at the Michigan Capitol, clogging the streets around State House and legally bringing semi-automatic rifles into the building.
Whitmer, who is seeking re-election this year, rarely speaks publicly about the case. She has blamed Trump for provoking anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case. She has said that Trump was complicit in the Capitol riot on January 6.