Michigan governor, family had to be moved once kidnap plot was underway

Conspirators reportedly planned to take governor to remote area before Election Day

New details have emerged about what Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endured as the FBI investigated the plot allegedly concocted by a group of men.

According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Whitmer and her family had to be moved at avrious times by law enforcement as they tracked the men who were alleged to have planned to kidnap her for months.

Nessel disclosed the detail to “CBS This Morning.” She said the Democratic governor was consistently updated about the investigation over the past couple months.

“She was aware of things that were happening,” Nessel said. “At times, she and her family had been moved around as a result of activities that law enforcement was aware of.”

The FBI says it foiled a plan of six conspirators who intended to violently disrupt the Michigan state government by capturing Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home. Now the state’s attorney general has arrested seven more people connected to the plan.

Six men have been charged in the plot to kidnap Whitmer. Four of the six men had planned to meet Wednesday to “make a payment on explosives and exchange tactical gear,” the FBI said in the court filing. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that seven other people have been charged with plotting to target law enforcement and attack the state Capitol.

Nessel announced additional charges under Michigan’s anti-terrorism law, and the seven men charged are linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen. The plot allegedly called for the members of the Michigan militia, according to a federal affidavit filed Thursday, to attempt to identify the homes of law enforcement officers to “target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war.”

They also planned and trained for an operation to attack the Michigan Capitol and to kidnap government officials, including the governor, Nessel said. In total, the seven men received 19 state felony charges for firearms and terror-related acts. The individuals include Paul Bellar, 21, of Milford; Shawn Fix, 38, of Belleville; Eric Molitor, 36, of Cadillac; Michael Null, 38, of Plainwell; William Null, 38, of Shelbyville; Pete Musico, 42; and Joseph Morrison, 42, who live together in Munith.

The court filing, which the Detroit News examined, alleges the suspects involved with the kidnapping plot surveilled the Michigan governor’s vacation home and discussed their intentions to take her to a remote area to stand “trial” for her treason prior to Election Day.

“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”

The conspiracy described involved at least six people, including Ty Garbin, 24, whose home was raided by agents in Hartland Township late Wednesday, according to the newspaper.

The affidavit filed in federal court details probable cause to charge the six men listed below with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer:

  • Adam Fox
  • Barry Croft
  • Garbin
  • Kaleb Franks
  • Daniel Harris
  • Brandon Caserta

Those accused reportedly found issues in what they called Whitmer’s inability to manage the governance of Michigan. The FBI shared comments from one of the accused assailants as saying Whitmer “has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now. All good things must come to an end.”

Whitmer has been praised but also often criticized for the state’s response to the coronavirus. She placed stringent restrictions on personal movement throughout the state and on the economy, although many of those limits have been lifted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.