Sheriff Dar Leaf of Barry County, Michigan downplayed an alleged far-right scheme to kidnap and “try” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) for “treason” during an astonishing interview on Friday.
Leaf was seen sharing the stage with William Null, one of the 13 men who have been charged by the feds over the alleged terrorist plot, during a protest against Whitmer’s stay-at-home order in May. Asked by local media outlet FOX 17 if he has any regrets about rubbing shoulders with Null earlier this year, the sheriff said the alleged conspiracy was “just a charge.”
Then he tried to suggest the whole thing might’ve merely been an attempt by the defendants to do their civic duty.
“Are they trying to kidnap? ‘Cause a lot of people are angry with the governor and they want her arrested,” Leaf said. “So are they trying to arrest, or was it a kidnap attempt?”
“Because you can still, in Michigan if it’s a felony, you can make a felony arrest,” the sheriff continued, citing a Michigan law on citizens’ arrests.
“Doesn’t say if you’re in elected office, you’re exempt from that arrest. So I have to look at it from that angle,” he said. “I’m hoping that’s more what it is. In fact, these guys are innocent until proven guilty, so I’m not even sure they had any part in it.”
HuffPost reported later on Friday that Leaf is affiliated with the extremist “constitutional sheriffs” movement, which is founded on the belief that sheriffs outrank state and federal officials in their counties. The group has ties to right-wing militias.
An FBI affidavit and statements by law enforcement this week painted a chilling portrait of 13 men who were behind the alleged kidnapping scheme, some of whom were members of a right-wing militia group known as the Wolverine Watchmen. The men allegedly devised an intricate conspiracy to “snatch and grab” Whitmer at her vacation home and put her on “trial” in a “secure location” in Wisconsin. They allegedly believed she had committed “treason” with her emergency restrictions on businesses and schools to protect against COVID-19.
Whitmer called the suspects “sick and depraved” and said that she “never could have imagined anything like this.”