DETROIT — Agents foiled a plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court.

What You Need To Know

  • The FBI arrested six men who allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home

  • Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Casert are Michigan residents; Barry Croft resides in Delaware

  • The men allegedly aimed to execute the plan before Election Day, according to the complaint

  • Seven other people were charged with plotting to target law enforcement and the state's Capitol building

Six men were charged in federal court, while seven others accused of trying to target police and the state Capitol were charged in state court.

The six individuals, who were identified in the criminal complaint as Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta, are charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, according to the complaint.

Of the six, five are Michigan residents — Croft resides in Delaware, the complaint states.

“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence. Violence has been prevented today,” Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider told reporters.

According to the complaint, the men wanted to take Whitmer to a "secure location" in Wisconsin for a "trial."

Gov. Whitmer responded to the charges in a press conference Thursday afternoon, where she said she hopes the "sick and depraved men" are brought to justice. 

"When I put my hand on the bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard. But I'll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this," Whitmer said, before going on to thank law enforcement for their actions. "As a mom with two teenage daughters and two stepsons, my husband and I are eternally grateful to everyone who put themselves in harm's way to keep our family safe."

The governor also used her speech to issue a blistering condemnation of President Trump's rhetoric surrounding violent right-wing extremists, saying his failure to denounce white supremacists during the first presidential debate was partially to blame for the rise in violent actions from hate groups.

"Just last week, the President of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups. 'Stand back,' and 'stand by,' he told them," Whitmer said, citing Trump's words during the Sept. 29 debate. "Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry. As a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter."

Trump, a frequent and vocal critic of Whitmer and her refusal to fully reopen Michigan amid the coronavirus pandemic, has since said he condemns "all white supremacists."

While Trump has not yet issued a comment in regards to the alleged plot against Whitmer, his senior campaign advisor, Jason Miller, had some choice words following the governor's address. 

“How you can go from a moment of unity to attacking President Trump, I thought was just completely ridiculous. If we want to talk about hatred, then Governor Whitmer, go look in the mirror," Miller said on Fox News Thursday. "The fact that she wakes up every day with such hatred in her heart towards President Trump — I mean, President Trump is the one out there condemning these radical groups whether they be on the right or whether they be on the left.”

President Trump has rarely condemned white supremacist groups, but has frequently stated that far-left extremists, or antifa members, are responsible for protest violence, offering little evidence to support this theory.

Thursday's arrests came after a months-long interagency investigation between multiple states.

The FBI became aware in early 2020 of a local milita group that intended to use violent action to spur the "overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components," an idea that ultimately culminated in a plot to deploy 200 men to the Capitol Building in Lansing. There, the men planned to kidnap Whitmer and try her for treason, according to a sworn affidavit. 

The group of six men accused of kidnapping allegedly went so far as to meet for training and field excercises earlier this year, the complaint adds.

In one such meeting in June, 2020, according to the complaint, the men gathered "in the basement of [Fox's] shop, which was accessed through a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor." There, they "discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using 'Molotov cocktails' to destroy police vehicles."

According to the complaint, the men allegedly were going to execute the plan before Election Day.

According to court documents, officials employed confidential informants in order to monitor the group, even paying one individual nearly $14,000.

The FBI quoted one of the accused as saying Whitmer “has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now. All good things must come to an end.”

“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence. Violence has been prevented today,” Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider told reporters.

They are suspected of attempting to identify the homes of law enforcement officers to “target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war.” They also planned and trained for an operation to attack the Michigan Capitol building and to kidnap government officials, including the governor, Dana Nessel said.

In response to Thursday's charges, Michigan's Republican state senate majority leader Mike Shirkey denounced those who plotted to attack Whitmer, saying: "They are criminals and traitors, and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Whitmer has been praised but also deeply criticized for the state’s response to the coronavirus. She put major restrictions on personal movement throughout the state and on the economy, although many of those limits have been lifted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.