COVID-19 delays trial on plan to abduct Mich. Gov. Whitmer
COVID-19 delays trial on plan to abduct Mich.  Gov.  Whitmer

COVID-19 delays trial on plan to abduct Mich. Gov. Whitmer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) – The trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, scheduled to resume Monday, has been postponed at least until Thursday because a key participant tested positive for COVID-19.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker ordered the delay Sunday. Undercover FBI agents and informants were expected to testify in the coming weeks, as did two conspirators who pleaded guilty prior to the trial, while prosecutors base their case against four defendants accused of plotting to kidnap Whitmer.

The trial can last more than a month.

In testimony last week, prosecutors tried to counter defense allegations that the four had been captured, tricked by the FBI into participating in a kidnapping conspiracy that otherwise would not have occurred to them. Prosecutors laid the groundwork for their case by calling FBI investigators to explain how they obtained secret footage and postings on social media. They entered some of the most important evidence.

On Thursday, jurors heard for the first time a recording of one of the defendants speaking specifically about the kidnapping of the Democratic governor. One could hear Barry Croft Jr. say there should be “a quick, precise grip” by Whitmer.

Jury members heard him and indicted Adam Fox in postings and recordings on social media, commenting on alleged government assaults and saying violence was a valid answer. Prosecutors say Croft and Fox were leaders of the plot.

Prosecutors said authorities arrested Fox, Croft, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta in October 2020 to prevent the kidnapping and to ensure the men could not follow up on bids to buy powerful explosives.

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 and is not expected to attend the trial. She has blamed Trump for inciting distrust and anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn hate groups and right-wing extremists like those accused in the plot. She has said he was also complicit in the deadly January 6 Capitol uprising.

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White reported from Detroit.

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Find the AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnap plot trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial

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