Steven D’Antuono just keeps falling upward.
D’Antuono was the head of the FBI’s Detroit field office as the bureau was investigating a supposed kidnapping attempt against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
As Just the News notes, trial testimony alleges the “plot” wasn’t just investigated but instigated by the FBI, with the jury hearing that the bureau’s informants gave drugs to those who were eventually charged in the plot before recording their conversations and sometimes outnumbered “plotters” during meetings.
Closing arguments in the case of two men on trial for the Whitmer “plot” are scheduled to begin Monday. Even if the government gets a conviction, however, the entire endeavor smacks of entrapment. You’d think a man with that kind of record would get shipped out to some nice, remote FBI field office with a filing job to keep him busy until he collects his pension.
Instead, he’s currently the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office — which means he’s also the guy who’s in charge of the office that’s investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion and which is responsible for raiding former President Donald Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, according to Just the News.
From the FBI’s perspective, this is the worst time to remind America of this fact. On Thursday, the prosecution rested in the retrial of Barry Croft, Jr. and Adam Fox, two of the men charged in the supposed plot to kidnap Whitmer.
The two men have already been tried once, but a mistrial was declared in April after a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict in their cases. Two others accused in the case were acquitted after their defense attorneys argued they’d been targeted for entrapment by the bureau.
Last week included dramatic testimony from FBI informant Dan Chappel, Just the News noted. Known as “Big Dan,” Chappel is a U.S. Postal Service delivery truck driver who was put in touch with the FBI by a police officer after Chappel shared his concerns regarding a pro-Second Amendment Facebook group.
Chappel testified that he offered Fox a credit card from the FBI with a $5,000 limit to purchase firearms and ammunition and rent hotel rooms, according to Just the News. He did this despite the fact that Fox was then unemployed and basically homeless, living in the basement of a vacuum-cleaner repair shop that didn’t have running water. Fox refused the credit card, however, according to Just the News.
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As for Chappel himself, evidence the defense submitted showed he took home $60,000 in pay for seven months work with the bureau, according to Just the News. The benefits also included a smart watch, a computer worth more than $3,000 and new tires.
Chappel also brought the group of “plotters” together in the first place, according to Just the News, and testified that the FBI allowed protesters to storm the state capitol in Lansing during an anti-lockdown protest in April of 2020.
Confirmation of this can be seen in texts from Chappel’s FBI handler, who praised him for “bringing people together.”
Julie Kelly, senior writer for the conservative website American Greatness, posted a sampling on Twitter in July:
FBI handler praising Dan Chappel, lead informant, for stitching together his targets who did not know each other before FBI got involved. So sweet! pic.twitter.com/GyIGHKyUFU
— Julie Kelly 🇺🇸 (@julie_kelly2) July 16, 2022
FBI agent Tim Bates, meanwhile, testified Thursday he pretended to be an explosives expert named “Red” who was introduced to the group by Chappel, according to Just the News.
And then there’s testimony from October, according to Just the News, from an FBI agent who said that Steve Robeson — an FBI informant and convicted felon — was behind the Wisconsin chapter of an anti-government, fringe-right group called the Three Percenters. He was the one who, with FBI involvement, made Fox head of that organization’s Michigan chapter, according to Just the News.
If this entrapment all sounds farcical enough to be material for a Babylon Bee satire — well, you’re not too far off:
And despite this, D’Antuono didn’t get shipped off to Guam to wait this one out. Oh no.
Instead, as FBI Director Christopher Wray was forced to admit in testimony before the Senate earlier in this month, D’Antuono is in charge of the Washington, D.C., office. Which means, as Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz noted, he was leading the field office heading the Jan. 6 investigation:
Wray admits to Ted Cruz that the FBI special agent in charge of the Detroit field office during the Whitmer kidnapping debacle is now in charge of the DC field office during the J6 investigation. pic.twitter.com/DUsXbBX0Vt
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) August 4, 2022
Even though Wray said during questioning that Cruz’s characterization “doesn’t sound right to me,” he later confirmed that “Mr. D’Antuono was the special agent in charge of the office, the Detroit field office, and is now the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office.”
“So the guy in charge [in Detroit] got promoted and is now in charge of the Jan. 6 investigation?” Cruz asked.
“The guy in charge of the whole Detroit field office is now in charge of the whole Washington field office,” Wray said in response.
Which means he was also in charge of a raid on Mar-a-Lago that was problematic enough that even disgraced former Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — once considered the most prominent anti-Trump politician in the country during the first few months of the COVID pandemic — was moved to tweet this:
DOJ must immediately explain the reason for its raid & it must be more than a search for inconsequential archives or it will be viewed as a political tactic and undermine any future credible investigation & legitimacy of January 6 investigations.
— Andrew Cuomo (@andrewcuomo) August 9, 2022
The purported reason for the raid, of course, is supposedly that Trump had super-secret nuclear documents at his estate in Palm Beach County’s Mar-a-Lago Club — although it could just as easily have been a pretext for a fishing expedition for anything that could make a case against the former president for the Capitol incursion.
Either way, it looked politicized enough that even Andrew freaking Cuomo decided to pop his head above ground and say something. When you’re drawing that kind of ire, you’ve created a mess.
All of which is to say that Christopher Wray should be wary of how secure his job is.
History tells us that whenever Steven D’Antuono screws up in a very public manner, there’s nothing to do but promote him — and one of the few positions above him is that of FBI director.
He’s already in Washington, after all.