Did the FBI Manipulate the Michigan Kidnapping Plot to Influence the Election?

Remember this headline? “Trump appears to give a pass to the domestic kidnapping plot against Whitmer.” 

Just before the November 2020 election, CNN and many other mainstream media outlets repeatedly attempted to tie President Trump to a domestic terrorism plot allegedly aimed at Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  “Trump has repeatedly attacked Whitmer before and after the news of the plot,” CNN wrote, implying that Trump’s criticism of Whitmer inspired the plot. 

Whitmer went further, directly accusing Trump of “fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and division.” The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Donald Trump was complicit in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” adding, “Political rhetoric can incite. Incendiary posturing can trigger those who carry matches. We’ve now seen this play out dramatically in Michigan.”

The timing of the story and its circumstances seemed a little fishy, even then. The headlines reinforced very ugly stereotypes about Trump supporters: Violent rural men hatching a plot to kidnap a key Democratic governor. Nobody paid any attention to the FBI’s weirdly balancing details that the kidnappers also hated Trump. It’s almost like the FBI added that detail to the plot to camouflage the otherwise obviously partisan impact of the story. 

The story supposedly broke when it did because the kidnappers had begun to set things in motion. Trump lost Michigan just a few weeks later by a very small margin. The story almost certainly played a role in tipping this key battleground state.

In publicizing the plot, the Justice Department declared its commitment to “make sure violent extremists never succeed with their plans, particularly when they target our duly elected leaders,” and that, “All of us can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never . . . result in violence.” We all knew exactly what that was supposed to be code for: The FBI stopped Trump supporters from kidnapping the Democratic governor of Michigan.

Last week, BuzzFeed published an article that completely changes what we know about the plot. Previously, we were led to believe that the FBI “disrupted” the plot. But according to BuzzFeed, the FBI had more actors in the conspiracy than actual arrestees—there were 12 “informants” for the six arrested suspects. Why would it take 12 “informants,” to gather information on six people? Students of the FBI knew exactly what this meant: A “Truman Show”-style operation in which the FBI stages almost every aspect of a conspiracy to entice suspects into committing an arrestable crime.

BuzzFeed reported: 

An examination of the case . . . also reveals that some of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.

A longtime government informant from Wisconsin, for example, helped organize a series of meetings around the country where many of the alleged plotters first met one another and the earliest notions of a plan took root, some of those people say. The Wisconsin informant even paid for some hotel rooms and food as an incentive to get people to come.

One of the informants, “prodded the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping plot to advance his plan . . .” The arrestees claim they were “targeted because of their political views . . . They argue that the recordings and text messages that the government calls proof of a criminal conspiracy are in fact constitutionally protected speech—expressions of frustration at what they see as the government’s betrayal of its citizens.” A lawyer for one defendant produced text messages from an FBI agent directing one informant to draw specifically named people into the conspiracy.

The Buzzfeed article is particularly alarming in light of the fact that the timing of the plot unfolded at the point that maximized damage to Trump’s electoral prospects. Did the FBI use its 12 informants to create anti-Trump buzz just in time for the election? Twelve informants versus six suspects would guarantee that any decisions submitted to a vote or consensus would go in the FBI’s favor.

Many draw parallels between the October 2020 Michigan “plot,” and the events of January 6. Tucker Carlson, among others, claims to have evidence that the FBI had active informants among the people who breached the Capitol. The FBI arrested hundreds of people in a nationwide manhunt. Many remain in jail without bail or trial for alleged nonviolent crimes that rarely lead to imprisonment.

Four years ago, most Americans would have laughed off allegations that the FBI staged crimes. But after the Russian collusion hoax, Americans increasingly don’t rule out the possibility. And the suspicion is becoming bipartisan. Three Democratic congressmen recently accused the FBI of framing a Chinese scientist of being a Chinese Communist spy.

We need to find out if the FBI influenced the politically convenient date of the publicity over the plot. Americans deserve to know whether the FBI meddled in the 2020 election. 

About Adam Mill

Adam Mill is a pen name. He is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. He graduated from the University of Kansas and has been admitted to practice in Kansas and Missouri. Mill has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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