‘When’s the lynching?': Man named leader in Whitmer kidnapping plot said after COVID restrictions struck down

A man described as the leader of a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked "when's the lynching?" after the state Supreme Court in 2020 struck down a law that she repeatedly used to impose restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to evidence introduced Monday.

The disclosure came near the end of the first phase of testimony by a key government witness in the trial of four men. Cross-examination of Dan Chappel followed.

Chappel, an Army veteran, was an FBI informant who secretly recorded hours of conversations, participated in chat groups and trained to abduct Whitmer, along with Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.

Prosecutors say the four were antigovernment extremists who wanted to grab the Democratic governor at her vacation home in northern Michigan in retaliation for a series of sweeping orders during the pandemic.

With Chappel in the witness chair, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler introduced messages written after Whitmer lost a Michigan Supreme Court decision about her powers.

"When's the lynching?" Fox wrote. "She should be arrested now, immediately. Who wants to roll out?"

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The exchange occurred just a few days before the FBI arrested the men before they could obtain an explosive to use in a kidnapping.

Fox, Croft, Harris and Caserta are charged with conspiracy. Chappel last week told jurors how two trips were made to northern Michigan to see Whitmer's property as well as a nearby bridge that could be blown up to distract police.

Defense lawyers 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 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.