Gretchen Whitmer: Two convicted in Michigan governor kidnap plot case

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Gretchen WhitmerImage source, Getty Images
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Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer

Two men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan's Democratic governor have been found guilty on conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors say Adam Fox, 39 and Barry Croft Jr, 46, hoped to start a "revolution" by kidnapping Gretchen Whitmer in a 2020 plot.

Their defence lawyers had characterised the duo as "big talkers", disillusioned men angry at the government.

This was the second trial for both men after a mistrial this spring.

According to prosecutors, the defendants targeted Ms Whitmer because of stringent Covid-19 restrictions she imposed early in the pandemic.

After deliberating for much of Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, the jury determined that the two men were guilty of conspiring to obtain weapons of mass destruction - a bomb - to blow up a bridge in order to thwart a police response to the planned kidnapping.

Croft, a native of Delaware, was also convicted on a separate explosives charge.

Attorneys for the two men have vowed to appeal. Both Fox and Croft now face the possibility of life in prison.

This retrial came after a jury failed to reach a verdict against the two, and acquitted two others, in an earlier trial in April. Two more men pleaded guilty and testified for prosecutors.

In a statement following the conviction, Ms Whitmer said that the verdicts show that "violence and threats have no place" in US politics and that those who call for violence will be held accountable.

"But we must also take a hard look at the status of our politics," she said. "Plots against public officials and threats to the FBI are a disturbing extension of radicalised domestic terrorism that festers in our nation."

During closing arguments earlier this week, prosecutors told the jury that Fox and Croft had been under surveillance by federal authorities for weeks, during which time they discussed the plot in detail.

In court, Assistant US Attorney Nils Kessler said that the men hoped "to set off a second American civil war" and had planned to put Ms Whitmer on trial before executing her.

He added that the two had checked out Ms Whitmer's home at night ahead of the planned kidnapping.

Lawyers representing both men suggested that the two were incapable of mounting such a scheme.

Additionally, they argued that the men had been entrapped - or improperly induced into the crime - by an undercover FBI operation.

"In America, the FBI is not supposed to create domestic terrorists so that the FBI can arrest them," Fox's attorney Christopher Gibbons said. "The FBI isn't supposed to create a conspiracy so the FBI can stand up and claim a disruption."

A total of 13 people were arrested in connection with the October 2020 plot, seven of whom are facing charges in Michigan's state court system.