GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. 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 accomplices who pleaded guilty prior to the trial, while prosecutors build 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 claims that the four were captured, cheated by the FBI to take part in a kidnapping conspiracy which 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.
Juries heard him and accused Adam Fox in social media posts and footage talking about alleged government abuses and says 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 to incite mistrust and anger over coronavirus restrictions and to refuse 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.
White reported from Detroit.
Find the AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnapping trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial
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