“You can’t just strap on an AR-15 and body armor and snatch the governor.” Most people know this without having to hear it from a prosecutor during federal criminal trial. But two Michigan men are apparently learning this lesson the hard way. On Tuesday, a jury found Barry Croft and Adam Fox guilty of conspiring to kidnap the state’s Democratic governor—the latest development in a complex, two-year-long legal saga.
According to the FBI, Croft and Fox sought to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer back in 2020, planning to detonate explosives to interfere with any police response and to potentially ignite a full-blown civil war. Fox, according to an October 2020 FBI affidavit, said he needed “200 men” to storm the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, and take hostages, including the Governor.
The controversial FBI investigation involved a number of informants and undercover agents who were connected to the plot, including one agent who offered to provide explosives. In an earlier trial this year, a different jury failed to reach a verdict on the charges against Croft and Fox and acquitted their co-defendants.
Before the kidnapping plot, Whitmer had vocally criticized President Donald Trump, calling him out for demanding the arrest protesters after the death of George Floyd and for his poor response to the Covid pandemic. The two publicly feuded, with Trump frequently belittling the governor on social media.
Shortly after the arrests in 2020, Trump weirdly took credit for the FBI thwarting the attempted abduction while also appearing to downplay the threat. At a rally in Michigan, Trump did nothing to quell the frenzied crowd chanting “lock her up” in reference to Whitmer. His only response was “lock ‘em all up.” Whitmer called Trump’s remarks disturbing and said Trump was inciting “domestic terrorism.”
This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans. It needs to stop. https://t.co/EWkNQx3Ppx
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) October 17, 2020
“It is wrong. It’s got to end,” the governor said at the time. “It’s dangerous not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere.”
In a statement Tuesday, Whitmer said that the conviction shows “that violence and threats have no place in our politics and those who seek to divide us will be held accountable.”