Douglas Andrews / August 11, 2022

An FBI Entrapment Do-Over in Michigan

The government’s first attempt having gone up in smoke, it now tries again to secure two convictions in a highly dubious case.

It’s interesting: A couple of the whistleblowers to come forward to House and Senate Republicans in recent weeks have approached them about FBI efforts at “artificially padding domestic terrorism data.” That’s according to a letter sent from Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

We mention this because this week in Michigan, that same FBI is trying for a second time to get convictions in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer. What a relief it is that Attorney General Merrick Garland has made “domestic terrorism” an investigative priority within the Biden Justice Department. Otherwise, master criminals and violent extremists (ahem) like the Whitmer kidnapping plotters would be running around loose instead of rotting in jail for nearly two years while the FBI calls for a do-over and tries to convince a jury that they really, honestly and truly, didn’t entrap these knuckleheads.

Earlier this year, after 20 days of trial for four defendants alleged to have plotted the kidnapping, the jury acquitted two men of all charges and failed to reach a verdict on the charges against the other two. Federal prosecutors are now retrying the latter pair of defendants, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., but we wonder about the odds of them securing a conviction this second time around, given what we already know about the FBI’s well-documented efforts to entrap the alleged plotters.

“Thank you to the fearless FBI agents,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a press conference on October 8, 2020, just before the presidential election, when the feds finally decided to move in and bust a group calling themselves the Wolverine Watchmen. Of course, we now know that the many agents and informants involved in the case weren’t particularly “fearless,” and that at no time was Whitmer ever in danger because the FBI itself was driving the plot to kidnap her.

Late last month, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Matthew Olsen, head of the bureau’s National Security Division, repeatedly dodged questions by North Carolina Republican Congressman Dan Bishop about the case. As independent journalist Julie Kelly reports, Whitmer herself knew about the plan weeks if not months before the alleged kidnappers were arrested. And further, Kelly writes: “A second high-profile trial will once again expose the shocking details of the FBI’s wide-ranging scheme, which involved at least a dozen FBI undercover agents and informants working with multiple FBI handlers over a span of six months to stitch the targeted group of men together.”

Bishop also presented to Olsen a text message which showed that its main informant in the Michigan case had tried to induce a man in Virginia to initiate the same plot against then-Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam. Who knew?

Referring to the suspicious timing of the Michigan plotters’ arrests — just as millions of Americans were voting for president — Kelly called it “another example of the FBI interfering in a presidential election to damage Donald Trump,” noting that “Whitmer and Joe Biden blamed Trump for inciting violence against one of his most public political foes, which resulted in wall-to-wall negative headlines for Trump right before Election Day.”

When Bishop asked Olsen about that timing, Olsen gave a predictably lame response: “I can tell you that in every case we follow the facts and the evidence and the law and we do so without regard to politics or ideology.”

Uh-huh. No regard “to politics or ideology” with Spygate or with Hunter Biden’s laptop, no sir-ree.

In opening remarks to the jury yesterday, the Associated Press reports: “Defense attorney Joshua Blanchard repeated an argument that he vigorously made in the first trial, accusing the FBI of targeting Croft and pulling him in because he had encouraged violence and protest.”

Blanchard then played an audio clip of an agent telling an informant: “A saying we have in my office is, ‘Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.’” Blanchard then explained, “Because they weren’t willing to let the facts get in the way of a good story they wanted to tell, Barry has been sitting in jail for the last 672 days waiting for you to tell the FBI that the facts do matter. … The way you do this is you return a verdict of not guilty.”

As Kelly tweeted yesterday, the defense team wasted no time in pointing out that one of the FBI’s informants had “planted explosives material in truck of defendant so FBI could confiscate the evidence upon arrest.”

Really? This is how the bureau now operates? One doesn’t have to approve of the conduct of these anti-government oddballs to see that the FBI has lost its way.

We get no pleasure in saying it, given that thousands of FBI agents and employees do their jobs faithfully and honorably, but the bureau is infected at the very top and has been for years. Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Wray — these are the types of corrupt partisans that populate the 7th floor of the J. Edgar Hoover building, and they remind us that a fish rots from the head.

The jury saw through the FBI’s overzealous involvement last time. We’ll have to see if this new jury is equally discerning.

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