New Revelations Show Whitmer Plotters Are Guilty Of First Degree Buffoonery

TPM Illustration
|
October 13, 2020 2:41 p.m.

A lengthy court hearing Tuesday morning revealed the larger ambitions — and, frankly, undeniable buffoonery — of the alleged plotters behind a plan to kidnap the governor of Michigan. 

The alleged scheme was interrupted by federal and state law enforcement last week, and 13 people now faces charges in connection to it, six in federal court and seven on state terrorism charges. The detention hearing for three the federal defendants began at 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday. 

Code Name Stupidity

The new information we have Tuesday comes from FBI special agent Richard Trask, who authored the affidavit detailing the alleged plot in support of the federal charges that came out last week. 

That affidavit detailed some of the group’s attempts to allegedly hide their planning. For example, alleged ringleader Adam Fox (pictured above) is quoted as using the words “baker” and “cupcakes” to refer to an explosives manufacturer and explosives. 

But it went deeper, and dumber, than that. For example, Trask listed the code names of the five defendants present Tuesday. They’re something else.

An encrypted chat the group used, Trask said, had a name that had to be abbreviated in court: “Fuck Around And Find Out.” After the first mention, the assistant U.S. attorney questioning Trask said he would refer to the chat as FAFO to avoid swearing in court, the Detroit News’ Robert Snell noted.

Paranoia Fail

The code names match the affidavit’s description of a group worried about being found out. But they still failed to keep things under wraps: The men were recorded constantly by confidential human sources and, later, undercover law enforcement officers. Trask said Tuesday that authorities had upwards of 100 hours of audio tape, including from an informant’s wrist-worn recorder. 

That’s not to say the alleged plotters didn’t try to keep a secret: At one point early in the plotting, in June, Fox had the group meet in a basement below a trap door, then took everyone’s phones in an attempt to prevent eavesdropping. 

That didn’t work: A confidential source in attendance was wearing a recording device, according to the affidavit. (The owner of the vacuum store where the basement meeting occurred, who’s known Fox for years and let him sleep there, was reportedly shocked by the news.) 

In court Tuesday, a prosecutor noted that the group talked about trying to use a device that would detect such recording devices. 

“Obviously, it didn’t work,” the prosecutor said.

Stranding The Governor On Lake Michigan

Trask’s affidavit details the defendants’ alleged intent to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home and bring her to Wisconsin to stand for a bogus treason “trial.” 

But in court Tuesday, Trask revealed that the group discussed another option: Simply leaving the governor in the middle of Lake Michigan. 

“His idea was to take [Whitmer] out in a boat and leave her out in the middle of Lake Michigan and disable the engine and just leave the boat,” Task said of Fox Tuesday, per the Detroit Free Press.

Mulling Another Kidnapping: VA’s Northam

Another juicy detail discussed at the hearing: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was also the subject of talks about a potential kidnapping, according to Trask.

In June, during an Ohio meeting with people from multiple states — including two men later accused in the Whitmer kidnapping plot — “several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution,” according to Trask’s affidavit.

Testifying Tuesday, the FBI agent revealed that the group discussed Northam specifically. 

“They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders,” Trask said.

A spokesperson for Northam said Tuesday that his security team had been kept informed by the FBI, and that “at no time was the Governor or his family in imminent danger.”

The spokesperson, Alena Yarmosky, then referenced the President. 

“Here’s the reality: President Trump called upon his supporters to ‘LIBERATE VIRGINIA’ in April — just like Michigan,” Yarmosky said. “In fact, the President regularly encourages violence against those who disagree with him. The rhetoric coming out of this White House has serious and potentially deadly consequences. It must stop.” 

Latest News
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30