Christina Carrega, Veronica Stracqualursi and Josh Campbell “13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer” https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/08/politics/fbi-plot-michigan-governor-gretchen-whitmer/index.html
The FBI became aware of the scheme, first reported by The Detroit News, in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals, according to the federal criminal complaint*2.
Court documents say the FBI planted a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with Croft, Fox and about 13 others.
"They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions ... Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," according to the complaint.
At one point during the meeting, the group discussed increasing their members and Fox reached out to a "Michigan-based militia group," according to the complaint.
By June 14, a second confidential informant confirmed that Fox was introduced to the leader of the group and they met in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The informant audio-recorded conversations with Fox in which he allegedly said he needed "200 men" to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Whitmer, according to the criminal complaint.
Fox allegedly explained they would try the governor of Michigan for "treason" and he said they would execute the plan before the November 2020 elections.
On June 20, Fox, Garbin and others met at Fox's business in Grand Rapids where attendees met in the basement accessed by a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor, according to the criminal complaint. Attendees turned over their cell phones, which were brought upstairs to "prevent any monitoring."
"The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using 'Molotov cocktails' to destroy police vehicles. The attendees also discussed plans for an additional meeting during the first weekend of July when they also would conduct firearms and tactical training," according to the criminal complaint.
In a video Fox live-streamed to a private Facebook group that included a confidential informant, he complained about the judicial system and the state of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms.
Fox referred to Whitmer as "this tyrant b****," adding, "I don't know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do," according to authorities. The video was preserved by the FBI and a Facebook spokesperson told CNN the company is cooperating with the investigation.
The conspirators conducted surveillance of Whitmer's vacation home on two occasions in late August and September, the complaint said. Croft and Fox discussed detonating explosive devices to divert police from the vacation home area, according to the FBI.
Earlier this month, Fox confirmed to others in the group that he purchased a taser, which he had previously discussed doing so for use in the kidnapping plot, the court document says. The FBI said Fox, Garbin, Harris and Franks had planned to meet on Tuesday to pay for explosives and swap tactical gear.
Whitmer has been the target of multiple death threats in light of her coronavirus response efforts and decision to issue stay-at-home orders. In April, protesters and extremists gathered at the state Capitol for a rally, gridlocking the streets to call for Whitmer to lift her stay-at-home order*3.
At one point in the spring, armed protesters entered the state capitol, where it is legal to openly carry firearms, and demanded an end to Michigan's state of emergency*4.
*1:See eg. Tom Perkins, Kelly Weill, Will Sommer and William Bredderman”The ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ Accused of Targeting Michigan Guv Spooked Their Neighbors” https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-we-know-about-wolverine-watchmen-accused-of-terror-kidnap-plot-against-michigan-gov-gretchen-whitmer Hannah Knowles”Wolverine Watchmen, extremist group implicated in Michigan kidnapping plot, trained for ‘civil war’” https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/08/wolverine-watchmen-michigan-militia/
*2:See Robert Snell and Melissa Nann Burke “Plans to kidnap Whitmer, overthrow government spoiled, officials say” https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/10/08/feds-thwart-militia-plot-kidnap-michigan-gov-gretchen-whitmer/5922301002/
*3:See Theresa Waldrop “Michigan drivers jam capital to protest coronavirus stay-at-home order” https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/15/us/michigan-protest-coronavirus/index.html
*4:See Steve Almasy and Rebekah Riess “Protesters pour into Michigan Capitol calling for end of state of emergency” https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/30/us/michigan-stay-at-home-protest/index.html