A man accused of a leading role in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer got the attention of the FBI in 2019 after he made fiery social media posts targeting law enforcement, an agent testified Thursday.
The trial of four men resumed in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Proceedings were delayed by three days after a trial participant tested positive for COVID-19.
Barry Croft Jr.’s defense attorney resumed cross-examination of FBI agent Christopher Long, who was questioned about how investigators got interested in the trucker from Bear, Delaware.
Long said Croft wrote on social media in 2019 that he wanted to force police officers out of their homes with fire, then "have a people’s trial and hang them from the nearest tree."
Defense attorney Joshua Blanchard has told jurors that the FBI pursued Croft because they simply didn’t like him or his associates who had antigovernment opinions.
Croft, Adam Fox, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are charged with conspiracy. Prosecutors say they turned their anger toward government in 2020 into a plot to kidnap Whitmer because of the restrictions she imposed during the early months of the pandemic.
Testimony began on March 9.
Jurors listening to social media videos and secretly recorded conversations last week heard Fox and Croft talk about taking action against government. Defense lawyers claim informants and undercover agents improperly influenced the men.
Whitmer, a Democrat who is seeking reelection, rarely talks publicly about the case. She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case. She has said Trump was complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.