Federal prosecutors in Michigan have charged six men with conspiring to kidnap the state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, as part of a militia-led plot before the November general election.
The FBI arrested five of the men on Wednesday, according to court records. As part of the plot, the group allegedly held training sessions with weapons, attempted to build explosive devices, and surveilled Ms Whitmer’s properties.
One of the members of the alleged plot had called Ms Whitmer a “tyrant” and said “we gotta do something”, according to an FBI affidavit filed in court earlier this week and unsealed on Thursday.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” the affidavit said.
Ms Whitmer has been the target of intense criticism over the lockdown measures she has ordered in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including from Donald Trump. In April, the US president tweeted: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”.
The FBI affidavit said investigators had become aware in “early 2020” that “a group of individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components”.
The plot evolved to include a Michigan-based militia group that in March had been trying to “target and kill” local police officers, according to the affidavit.
Over the coming months, the defendants met repeatedly to discuss their plans, which included “assaulting the Michigan State Capitol”, using Molotov cocktails against the police, and “shooting up the Governor’s vacation home”, the affidavit alleged.
The men charged were Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. Court records indicated all the men except Mr Croft had been arrested.
The affidavit said the FBI had several informants and undercover agents who were able to record the defendants plotting.
In a June phone call, Mr Fox had said he wanted “200 men” to storm the Michigan capitol building, according to the affidavit. The plan was to try Ms Whitmer for treason, it claimed. “He said they would execute the plan before the November 2020 elections,” the affidavit said.
In another conversation in August, Mr Harris had allegedly said: “Have one person go to her house. Knock on the door and when she answers it just cap her.”
Law enforcement officials are set to hold a press conference about the case later on Thursday afternoon.