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FBI: Groups talked of kidnapping Va. governor

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Members of anti-government paramilitary groups discussed kidnapping Virginia’s governor during a June meeting in Ohio, an FBI agent testified Tuesday during a court hearing in Michigan.

Special Agent Richard Trask also revealed more detail about investigators’ use of confidential informants, undercover agents and encrypted communication to arrest and charge six men last week with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Tuesday’s court hearing was to review investigators’ evidence against Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta and whether they should be detained before trial. The men are all Michigan residents.

A sixth man, Barry Croft, was being held in Delaware.

The June meeting was part of the FBI’s investigation of various anti-government groups, leading to the months-long case in Michigan relying on confidential sources, undercover agents and clandestine recordings to foil the alleged kidnapping conspiracy.

Some defendants conducted coordinated surveillance of the Democratic governor’s vacation home in northern Michigan in August and September, according to a criminal complaint.

It was not immediately clear whether talk of targeting Virginia’s Democratic governor went beyond the June meeting of anti-government groups in Dublin, Ohio. Trask said members of anti-government groups from “four or five” states attended that meeting.

“They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders,” Trask said. He said the people at the meeting were unhappy with the governors’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trask did not discuss further planning aimed at Northam.

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