The FBI announced on Thursday that they had stymied a plot by an extremist militia group to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home.
The U.S. District Court of Western Michigan also announced charges against six men connected to the plot, many of whom now face possible life sentences if convicted.
The FBI detailed the plot, which they had been tracking since early 2020, as being organized by extremists who consider Whitmer to be a "tyrant," according to the Detroit News. Part of the plot included kidnapping the governor from her vacation home and then transporting her to a remote location in Wisconsin to "stand trial" for actions they believe violated the Constitution.
An affidavit from the FBI lists Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta as co-conspirators. The individuals are currently facing federal charges for scheming to kidnap the governor. Garbin's home in Hartland Township, Michigan, was raided on Wednesday by federal agents.
Adam Fox is described in the federal affidavits as being a primary voice in the organization of the plot, somebody who wanted to actively recruit more participants and repeatedly criticized Whitmer for her actions throughout and prior to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
"They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions," the FBI notes said. "At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer."
According to the federal filing, the group, known as the "Wolverine Watchmen," sought to establish a society separate from the United States that closely followed the Bill of Rights.
The FBI's notes included multiple conversations among the co-conspirators that were recorded by confidential informants, at least one of whom was paid by the agency in an effort to gain inside information. Those conversations ultimately led to the raid on Wednesday.
During a press conference from the state capital of Lansing on Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that the state was also charging 12 individuals for crimes linked to the kidnapping plot.
Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper noted the obvious political strain between the Democrat governor and her conservative counterparts.
"This case is one of the largest cases in recent history that the MSP has been involved in," Gasper said during the press conference. "The nature of this case is rather unprecedented, but it does send a very vivid reminder that while we may be in a period of discourse, possibly even divisiveness, and fighting across the nation, law enforcement stands united."
Whitmer has been a particularly strict governor throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting criticism from the citizens of Michigan and across the country. The Supreme Court of Michigan ruled last week that Whitmer had overextended her executive authority and found many of her lockdown orders violated the Constitution.
But political differences aside, criticism of a public leader should never be addressed or handled with felonious and violent actions, said Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R).
"We condemn those who plotted against her and our government," Shirkey said. "They are not patriots. There is no honor in their actions. They are criminals and traitors, and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."