Two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 were “very eager” to move forward with the plan and expressed no reluctance, a key witness testified Wednesday.
Ty Garbin also downplayed the influence of two FBI informants who trained with the group, saying he couldn't recall them suggesting that Whitmer should be kidnapped.
“Not that I saw, no,” Garbin told jurors in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. are on trial for the second time on conspiracy charges. A jury in April couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict but acquitted two other men.
Garbin is an important witness for the government: He quickly agreed to cooperate following his arrest and pleaded guilty. Kaleb Franks pleaded guilty and will also testify.
Prosecutors say Fox and Croft wanted to trigger a national revolt. The government said disgust over COVID-19 restrictions inspired them to make kidnapping plans in 2020. Defense lawyers, however, argue that undercover FBI agents and rogue operatives created the scheme.
Garbin said he trained with Fox, Croft and others in a remote area, practicing inside a handmade “shoot house” to simulate a kidnapping. He told jurors how they traveled to Elk Rapids at night to see Whitmer's vacation home and a bridge that could be blown up to distract police during an attack.
“It wasn't anybody's idea but my own to participate,” Garbin said when asked if he was entrapped by agents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler asked if Fox and Croft were reluctant.
“No,” Garbin replied. “Very eager to continue forward with it.”
Garbin’s testimony was tighter than in the first trial. Last spring he said kidnapping the Democratic governor could be the “ignition” for civil war and “prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidency.”
But Kessler didn’t ask questions to draw out those answers Tuesday or Wednesday.
Fox, 39, was living in the Grand Rapids area, and Croft, 46, is from Bear, Delaware.
Whitmer has blamed then-President Donald Trump for stoking mistrust and fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn hate groups and right-wing extremists like those charged in the plot.
Trump recently called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal.”
Find the AP’s full coverage of the kidnapping plot trial: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial