Prosecutors said on Thursday that thirteen people, including seven men associated with the Wolverine Watchmen militia group, have been arrested for alleged plots to take the Michigan governor hostage and attack the state capitol building. The group aimed to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, according to a criminal complaint filed in a Michigan federal court. The criminal complaint said the alleged plotters discussed recruiting a force of 200 to storm the state capitol in Lansing and take hostages, but later abandoned the plan in favor of a scheme to kidnap Whitmer at her vacation home.
Andrew Birge, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Michigan, said the FBI became aware through social media that a group of people were discussing the “violent overthrow” of Michigan’s government, prompting a months-long investigation that relied heavily on confidential sources. The group of six facing federal charges — Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta — could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on charges of attempting to kidnap Whitmer, Birge said told an earlier news conference to announce the charges. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel disclosed additional charges against seven men affiliated with the Wolverine Watchmen militia group suspected of violating the state’s anti-terrorism act by conspiring to kidnap the governor and propagate violence.
At a news conference, Whitmer accused President Trump of encouraging extremist groups like the “sick and depraved men” that targeted her, citing his refusal to condemn white supremacists at the recent U.S. presidential debate against Joe Biden as an example. “When our leaders meet with, encourage and fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions, and they are complicit,” Whitmer said. “We are not one another’s enemy.”