AG: Michigan governor, family were ‘made aware’ and moved as plotters tracked

Midwest

LANSING, Mich. (NewsNation Now) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was aware of the kidnapping plot against her, the state’s attorney general said Friday.

“Well, she’s certainly been apprised of everything that’s happening during the course of this investigation as it pertained to her,” said Dana Nessel, Attorney General of Michigan, said in an interview with NewsNation on Friday. “Of course, remembering that there’s a lot more to all of this than just the plans that involved the governor; there were plots to take over the state capitol, to execute people involved with law enforcement and other public officials.”

“The number one goal is to make sure that nobody gets injured and nobody gets harmed,” added Nessel, “but yes the governor has been made aware of anything pertinent to her and her family’s safety so her detail was always aware in our investigation.”

The governor and her family were at times moved around by authorities as law enforcement tracked the men who allegedly plotted for months to kidnap her, Nessel disclosed on “CBS This Morning.”

Authorities announced Thursday that they foiled a plot to kidnap Whitmer in a scheme that involved months of planning and even rehearsals to snatch her from her vacation home before the Nov. 3 elections. Whitmer’s first term as governor does not end until 2022.

Six men were charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap the governor in reaction to what they viewed as her “uncontrolled power,” according to a federal complaint. Separately, seven others were charged under the state’s anti-terrorism laws for allegedly targeting police and the state Capitol.

Nessel said what’s next for them, “Well there are going to be preliminary hearings, calendar conferences have been scheduled. At this point I think the majority of the defendants have all been arraigned. They are certainly all in custody right now.  So the cases will move forward.  On the state level there will be probable cause conferences, preliminary exams scheduled, and the cases will be scheduled for trial.” 

The two groups trained together and planned “various acts of violence,” according to the state police.

Surveillance for the kidnapping plot took place in August and September, according to an FBI affidavit, and four of the men had planned to meet Wednesday to “make a payment on explosives and exchange tactical gear.”

“We thought it was time to move in before anybody lost their lives,” Nessel said.

FILE – In this March 5, 2020, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during a news conference in Lansing, Mich. Nessel has charged seven people with plotting to target law enforcement and attack state Capitol building. The announcement comes after six others were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home in reaction to what they viewed as her “uncontrolled power,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday , Oct. 8, 2020, in federal court. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

The FBI quoted one of the men accused of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer as saying she “has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now. All good things must come to an end.” That same man, Adam Fox, who was described as one of the leaders in the alleged plot, livestreamed a video to a private Facebook group “in which he complained about the judicial system and the state controlling the opening of gyms,” according to the federal complaint.

Whiter closed gyms in March but reopened them in some areas in June and statewide in September.

Authorities said the plots were stopped with the work of undercover agents and informants. The men were arrested Wednesday night. The six charged in federal court face up to life in prison if convicted. State terrorism charges the other seven men face carry a possible 20-year sentence.

Andrew Birge, the U.S. attorney in western Michigan, called the men “violent extremists.” They discussed detonating explosive devices — including under a highway bridge — to divert police from the area near Whitmer’s vacation home and Fox bought a Taser to use in the kidnapping, Birge said.

“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence. Violence has been prevented today,” Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said Thursday.

Nessel also had a warning for others, “I will tell you that certainly our task force, the Michigan State Police, The Department of Attorney General here, and of course the federal U.S. Attorneys and FBI, we continue to work together, we continue to monitor groups. Again not just in Michigan, but in several other states as well. I can say this, if people who are involved in this kind of activity think that they are not being watched and no one knows what they are doing and they can get away with these types of criminal acts, they should really think a little bit more carefully and consider the very serious charges that have been levied against these 13 individuals and it should serve as a deterrent to them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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