Informant who secretly recorded defendants in court Monday for Michigan governor plot trial

In order: Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris, Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta

An FBI informant who made hours of secret recordings faces cross-examination by defense lawyers Monday after telling jurors that four men wanted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before the fall 2020 election.

Dan Chappel testified for the government Friday, explaining how months of training and scheming led to a road trip to Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan to see how the group could pull off an abduction.

The FBI, which had infiltrated the group, said it made arrests before an explosive could be obtained.

The fifth day of testimony is set for Monday in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are charged with conspiracy.

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They’re portrayed as antigovernment extremists who were willing to turn to violence after Whitmer and leaders in other states imposed stay-home orders and other restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chappel, 35, an Army veteran, explained how he went from simply looking for camaraderie among gun-rights guys to becoming an FBI operative winning the confidence of the men and recording their conversations.

He made key recordings during trips to look at Whitmer’s second home in Elk Rapids and a nearby bridge where a bomb might distract police during an abduction.

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Defense lawyers, however, claim informants and agents improperly influenced the four men. Two other men, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, pleaded guilty to the scheme and will eventually testify for the government.

Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks publicly about the case, though she referred to "surprises" over the last few years that seem "something out of fiction" when she filed for reelection last week.

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. Whitmer has said Trump was complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.