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Gov. Whitmer kidnap plotters had VA Gov. Northam as potential target says FBI

Ralph S. Northam (Mark Warner/WikiCommons)
October 13, 2020

Accused conspirators in a recently foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also considered Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam a potential target, according to FBI Special Agent Richard Trask, who testified at a court hearing Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported Trask testified that some of the alleged conspirators in the plot to kidnap the Democratic Michigan governor met several months ago in Dublin, Ohio, where they discussed “taking” Northam, another Democratic governor.

“At this meeting they discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governors of Michigan and Virginia, based upon the lockdown orders,” Trask said, referring to lockdown orders implemented during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Associated Press, it was not clear from Trask’s testimony whether talk of targeting Northam went beyond the June meeting.

Last week, the FBI arrested several alleged conspirators in the plot to kidnap Whitmer. The FBI charged six people identified early this year who had “talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor.” The group had reportedly undergone training and extensive discussions for the plot and even surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home at least twice.

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Tuesday’s hearing was to review the evidence against five of the arrested conspirators, Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.

A sixth man, Barry Croft, was being held in Delaware, the AP reported.

Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky said the FBI alerted key members of Northam’s security team throughout the course of its investigation and she said the governor and his family were never believed to be in imminent danger, and that they had enhanced security measures in place for some time.

Yarmosky criticized President Donald Trump for the alleged targeting of Northam, and said, “Here’s the reality: President Trump called upon his supporters to ‘LIBERATE VIRGINIA’ in April — just like Michigan. In fact, the President regularly encourages violence against those who disagree with him. The rhetoric coming out of this White House has serious and potentially deadly consequences. It must stop.”

It is not clear that the accused kidnap plotters held specifically pro-Trump views. One of the accused, Caserta, posted videos with an Anarchist flag and referred to police as a “violent gang” and “enemies.” Caserta, in another video, also referred to Trump as a”tyrant” and an “enemy.”

Producer and director Robby Starbuck shared one of Caserta’s videos, tweeting, “Wow! This is big. Brandon Caserta, one of the ringleaders of the group of men arrested for a plot where the group planned to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, hated President Trump too! ‘Trump is not your friend dude.’ He says Trump is ‘a tyrant’ & calls President Trump an ‘enemy’.”

The Washington Post reported another accused plotter, Harris, attended a Black Lives Matter protest in June and reportedly the Oakland County Times he was upset about the killing of George Floyd and police violence. Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf told the Washington Post that another man charged in connection with the kidnapping plot, William Null, told him he had passed out water bottles alongside people involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, during a water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Leaf said he had met Null several times at various gun rights rallies and had also invited him to speak at a May protest against Michigan’s coronavirus lockdowns.