The FBI in 2020 broke up an alleged plot by right-leaning anarchists and militia members to try and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in response to the heavy-handed manner in which she dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.
Six members of that alleged plot are now facing federal prosecution, but according to defense attorneys, the FBI utilized at least a dozen informants and undercover agents to move the plot forward and entrap those who are now being prosecuted, BuzzFeed reported.
In other words, there likely never would have even been a plot, much less an actual attempt to kidnap the governor, absent the insistence and participation of those FBI assets, the attorneys claim.
FBI “induced or persuaded” criminal behavior in alleged plot
The outlet reported that a flurry of no less than 15 different defense motions were filed in recent days, including one requesting that prosecutors divulge more information about those FBI assets, including what their relationship with the bureau was, what roles they played in the plot, and how much they may have been paid by the government.
Other motions include efforts to change venue in light of the significant media attention that could taint the jury pool, requests to suppress certain evidence obtained via search warrants that aren’t germane to the charges, as well as to split up the defendants into separate trials.
Altogether, though, it increasingly appears that the main strategy being pursued by the defense attorneys is that, save for being “induced or persuaded” into action by the FBI assets, there never would have been any crimes committed for which the defendants were arrested and prosecuted.
BuzzFeed noted that prosecutors and the courts have been exceptionally tight-lipped with regard to any information about the informants and undercover agents that were involved in the plot, aside from acknowledging that they did, in fact, play key roles in obtaining audio and video that is now being used as evidence against the defendants.
FBI agent talked of creating “disarray and chaos” for defense attorneys
One of the defense motions obtained by BuzzFeed highlights a complaint from the attorneys that prosecutors have, perhaps deliberately, placed an inordinate burden on them by providing more than 5,000 duplicate files, including in one instance an audio recording that was shared 15 times in separate copies.
The Detroit News reported on that particular motion as well and how it purportedly contains audio of a lead FBI agent telling an unidentified asset that the bureau and prosecutors intended to stymie the defense attorneys — described as “paid liars” — by purposefully creating “disarray and chaos.”
The attorney pointed to the “disorganized and highly duplicative way” in which the discovery process was handled by prosecutors as a potential sign of the intended “disarray and chaos” meant to sabotage the efforts of the defense lawyers.
Defendant alleges entrapment and instigation of criminal behavior by FBI
Meanwhile, in addition to the six defendants facing federal charges, there are several more alleged plotters facing state-level charges, and the Detroit Free Press reported in June that one of those other defendants had raised a similar allegation — that the plot only came together and moved forward at the insistence of the FBI assets and otherwise would never have occurred.
In other words, any and all criminal charges for all of the federal and state defendants are the results of purposeful entrapment and instigation by the FBI. It will be interesting to see how all of these various motions and rather incredible allegations against the FBI will be handled by the courts.