Did the FBI Use Entrapment To Nab Those Michigan Governor Kidnap Plotters?

Faye Higbee

A group of about 12 “confidential informants” assisted the FBI with the arrests of 13 men who allegedly planned to kidnap and try Michigan Governor Whitmer. But in a comprehensive Buzzfeed article, the question was raised: did the FBI use entrapment to nab them? They have all claimed they were “set up,” which is standard for most criminals. But in this case, it might actually be true.

An examination of the case by BuzzFeed News also reveals that some of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.

A longtime government informant from Wisconsin, for example, helped organize a series of meetings around the country where many of the alleged plotters first met one another and the earliest notions of a plan took root, some of those people say. The Wisconsin informant even paid for some hotel rooms and food as an incentive to get people to come.

The Iraq War vet, for his part, became so deeply enmeshed in a Michigan militant group that he rose to become its second-in-command, encouraging members to collaborate with other potential suspects and paying for their transportation to meetings. He prodded the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping plot to advance his plan, then baited the trap that led to the arrest.

This account is based on an analysis of court filings, transcripts, exhibits, audio recordings, and other documents, as well as interviews with more than two dozen people with direct knowledge of the case, including several who were present at meetings and training sessions where prosecutors say the plot was hatched. All but one of the 14 original defendants have pleaded not guilty, and they vigorously deny that they were involved in a conspiracy to kidnap anyone.


At least one of the defendants says that the FBI assembled the players, encouraged the group’s anti-government feelings, and gave the members military-style training. Other defendants intend to file similar motions. One attorney produced FBI texts to the Iraq War Veteran, telling him to draw specific people into the conspiracy. That could be considered entrapment. The court will have to decide.

The wearing of wires and use of Confidential Informants (CHS- confidential human sources) is standard in criminal cases. The difference comes from actually causing a conspiracy instead of just listening and/or reporting one. One of the Prosecutors was recently reassigned after allegations that he withheld evidence in an unrelated case. An FBI agent involved in this case, Richard Trask, was charged with assault with intent to commit bodily harm in another unrelated case. It is a definite swamp.

Did the FBI target this group because of their right-leaning views and did they use entrapment to do it? Or is the group just trying to get out from under the serious charges? But there have been concerns over FBI tactics before, so it will be up to the court to decide if this was a legitimate conspiracy or not.


Featured photo: screenshot from original report

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