Closing Arguments In Trial Of 2 Men In Plot To Kidnap Mich. Governor

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. are charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 over their disgust with COVID restrictions.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
David Eggert / AP

Jurors will hear closing arguments Monday in the retrial of two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. declined to testify Friday as defense lawyers rested their case in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The government has portrayed Fox and Croft as leaders of a wild plan to snatch Whitmer at her vacation home in Elk Rapids, Michigan, and trigger chaos across the U.S.

Fox, Croft and their allies were furious about COVID-19 restrictions and generally disgusted by government, prosecutors say.

Kent County Sheriff's Office via AP

Defense lawyers, however, say Fox and Croft were a bumbling, foul-mouthed, marijuana-smoking pair exercising free speech and incapable of leading anything as extraordinary as an abduction of a public official. They say FBI agents and informants fed their outrage and pulled them into their web. 

"It has FBI fingerprints all over it," Christopher Gibbons said. 

The jury heard secretly recorded conversations and read violent social media posts, some written before the FBI got involved. Two undercover agents and an informant testified for hours, explaining how the men trained in Wisconsin and Michigan and visited Elk Rapids to see Whitmer's home. 

Other witnesses included Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, who pleaded guilty and insisted the group was not entrapped. 

Fox and Croft are on trial for a second time after a jury in April couldn't reach a unanimous verdict but acquitted two other men. 

Croft, 46, is from Bear, Delaware. Fox, 39, was living in the basement of a vacuum shop in the Grand Rapids area. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

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Whitmer, a Democrat, has blamed then-President Donald Trump for stoking mistrust and fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn hate groups and right-wing extremists like those charged in the plot.

She said Sunday that she hasn't been following the retrial, but that she remains concerned about "violent rhetoric in this country."

"This is a dangerous trend that is happening. We cannot let it become normalized and I do hope that anyone that’s out there plotting to hurt their fellow Americans is held accountable," Whitmer said at the Michigan Democratic Party's convention in Lansing.

Trump recently called the kidnapping plan a "fake deal."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.