Two men charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 were acquitted in federal court Friday after a trial in which the FBI was accused of political entrapment and serious misconduct.
Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted on a charge of conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer.
The charges against two other members of the supposed “Wolverine Watchmen” militia ended with mistrials. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on charges against Barry Croft and Adam Fox.
A fifth man charged in the alleged plot previously pleaded guilty.
The men were charged as a result of a sting operation organized by former FBI Agent Richard Trask.
The government alleged that the militia members planned a series of military-style raids to kidnap Whitmer, undergoing tactical training and even planning a show trial of Whitmer for enacting coronavirus lockdown policies.
Trask’s credibility in the case was shredded after profane anti-Trump rants were discovered on his personal Facebook account.
The political partisan attacked former President Donald Trump as a “douchebag” and voiced contempt for Americans who supported him.
Trask would later be fired by the FBI after being charged with felony domestic violence.
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In December, the federal agent pleaded no contest to brutalizing his wife after the couple returned from a swinger’s party, according to The Detroit News.
Defense attorneys argued that the case against Harris and Caserta was nothing more than a partisan hit job that ended with arrests one month before the closely contested 2020 election in Michigan.
The lawyers revealed that FBI informants working on the sting had supplied their own clients with drugs, later going on to entrap them in a scheme that was entirely of the government’s own making.
Andrew Birge, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, expressed disappointment at the acquittal of the two men.
He indicated that the federal government intends to refile charges against the defendants who got mistrials.
“We believe in the jury system. We have two defendants awaiting trial,” said Birge, according to The Detroit News.
Harris and Caserta left jail after their acquittal, free for the first time in two years since the arrest in the sting.
— Sarah Rahal (@SarahRahal_) April 8, 2022
Attorney Michael Hill said it was the “best birthday president imaginable” for Caserta, who turned 34 on Friday.