Gretchen Whitmer alleged kidnapping plot: Michigan defense attorneys question key FBI informant

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Defense attorneys for two men accused of hatching plans to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other public officials in 2020 sharply questioned a key FBI informant who infiltrated their anti-government group. 

Adam Fox, 39, and Barry Croft Jr., 46, are on trial for the second time on conspiracy charges related to the alleged plot. A jury acquitted two other defendants earlier this year, but could not reach a verdict on Fox and Croft. 

Dan Chappel, an Army veteran, testified this week that he joined the paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen, in early 2020 to keep his gun skills sharp, but said that he turned to the FBI when members of the group starting planning to harm public officials. 

Fox and Croft’s attorneys challenged Chappel about compensation he received from the FBI, which was more than $50,000, as well as ways that he encouraged the men to continue with their plot. 

“You said it would look like a hunting accident,” Fox attorney Christopher Gibbons said on Tuesday, noting that Chappel supported firing shots at Whitmer’s home and suggested ways to damage a door on her house. 

This combo of images provided by the Kent County, Mich., Jail. shows Barry Croft Jr., left, and Adam Fox, right, the two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.
(Kent County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Chappel countered that he was just trying to fit in with the group and “never expected anything” from the government. 

“I wanted to stop people from doing bad things to good people,” Chappel testified. 


Chappel and other informants drove with Fox and Croft to Whitmer’s second home in northern Michigan and discussed putting an explosive under a nearby bridge, prosecutors have said. 

Prosecutors played recordings of Fox and Croft actively discussing their plans to target Whitmer and others over COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I’m gonna hit soon,” Croft was heard saying on one recording in June 2020 with other anti-government activists. “I’m going to terrorize people. The right people. The people who have been terrorizing my people.”

FILE - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses business leaders, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Detroit.

FILE – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses business leaders, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Detroit.
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Attorneys for Fox and Croft did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. 


Gov. Whitmer, a Democrat, has rarely spoken publicly about the alleged plot, but told the Washington Post last month that she thought it was “awful” that two men had been acquitted and a mistrial was declared for Fox and Croft.  

“We’re supposed to expect this now? People plot to kidnap and kill a governor?” she told the newspaper. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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