(NewsNation) — The trial for four men charged in a wild plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer got underway Wednesday in a Grand Rapids, Michigan, federal court, where defense attorneys claimed the defendants were tricked by the FBI.
Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft Jr. and Daniel Harris are all accused of taking critical steps over several months to plan the kidnapping, which was to involve tying up Whitmer and blowing up a bridge to keep police from responding quickly.
Prosecutors alleged in opening arguments Wednesday that the men were angry over pandemic restrictions imposed by the Democratic governor and presented secret recordings and other evidence to prove they were the masterminds behind the plan.
Defense attorneys painted a different picture — describing Fox, Caserta, Croft. Jr. and Harris as big talkers who never meant what they said.
They argued the government entrapped the four men by orchestrating the plot, then coerced them to join in.
At the heart of the case is former FBI informant Stephen Robeson, who worked with the agency for about a year. Court documents show Robeson set up meetings, coordinated and paid for training exercises, and was with the suspects when they conducted surveillance on the governor’s Elk Rapids cottage.
According to NewsNation local affiliate WOOD-TV, the feds called Robeson a “double agent,” saying they dismissed him as an informant after learning he had worked for both the FBI and for those the FBI was after.
Defense attorneys say they plan to call him as a witness, WOOD-TV reported.
NewsNation spoke exclusively with him ahead of Tuesday’s jury selection.
Robeson, paid nearly $20,000 by the FBI, said he doesn’t know why he was subpoenaed by the defense.
“I just talked with their investigator,” Robeson said.
When it comes to the defense’s arguments that Robeson and the FBI persuaded the four men to do something they didn’t do, the informant said, “We’ll see how that pans out.”
“I did not,” Roberson said. “They certainly were grown up and made their own decisions on anything that happened.”
Two other suspects in the plot have already pleaded guilty and are expected to testify against the four men.
The first witness to the stand on Wednesday was an FBI agent assigned to the case, followed by feds showing a series of Facebook posts and videos by the defendants to both their profiles and militia groups in an effort to prove the suspects were predisposed to commit the kidnapping.