Trial resumes for 4 men accused of Michigan governor plot

Posted at 6:28 PM, March 17, 2022 and last updated 7:57 PM, July 12, 2023

By ED WHITE Associated Press

A man accused of a leading role in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer got the attention of the FBI in 2019 after he made fiery social media posts targeting law enforcement, an agent testified Thursday.

FILE – This combination of photos provided by the Kent County Sheriff and the Delaware Department of Justice shows, top row from left, Brandon Caserta and Barry Croft; and bottom row from left, Adam Dean Fox and Daniel Harris. The four members of anti-government groups are facing trial in March 2022 on federal charges accusing them in a plot to abduct Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. Jury selection begins Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in a trial the presiding judge at the U.S. District Court courthouse in Grand Rapids, Mich., said could take over a month. (Kent County Sheriff, Delaware Department of Justice via AP File)

The trial of four men resumed in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Proceedings were delayed by three days after a trial participant tested positive for COVID-19.

Barry Croft Jr.’s defense attorney resumed cross-examination of FBI agent Christopher Long, who was questioned about how investigators got interested in the trucker from Bear, Delaware.

Long said Croft wrote on social media in 2019 that he wanted to force police officers out of their homes with fire, then “have a people’s trial and hang them from the nearest tree.”

Defense attorney Joshua Blanchard has told jurors that the FBI pursued Croft because they simply didn’t like him or his associates who had antigovernment opinions.

Croft, Adam Fox, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are charged with conspiracy. Prosecutors say they turned their anger toward government in 2020 into a plot to kidnap Whitmer because of the restrictions she imposed during the early months of the pandemic.

Testimony began on March 9.

Jurors listening to social media videos and secretly recorded conversations last week heard Fox and Croft talk about taking action against government. Defense lawyers claim informants and undercover agents improperly influenced the men.

Whitmer, a Democrat who is seeking reelection, rarely talks publicly about the case. She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case. She has said Trump was complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.