Defense attorneys representing two men recently convicted for conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 are seeking a new federal trial for their clients amid claims of jury and judicial misconduct. (The men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft were found guilty in August in a second trial; a jury in April failed to reach a verdict on them. Two co-defendants were acquitted after jurors concluded the men had been entrapped by the FBI.) A separate state trial for three other men accused of participating in the scheme is now underway in Jackson, Michigan.
The ongoing legal drama is a reminder of the handiwork of Steven D’Antuono, former head of the Detroit FBI field office, which was primarily responsible for hatching and executing the Whitmer fednapping hoax. Supervising and undercover agents working out of that Detroit office and its satellite branches managed the day-to-day details of the wide-ranging operation such as handling the main FBI informant, Dan Chappel, who was compensated at least $60,000 in cash and personal items paid by the FBI for luring the men into the trap.
About a week after law enforcement authorities announced arrests in the case on October 8, 2020, D’Antuono was rewarded with a plum assignment: head of the Washington FBI field office where he had worked on two other occasions, including a 2008 stint as supervisor of the public corruption and government fraud squad. FBI Director Christopher Wray presumably promoted D’Antuono for helping to bolster one of the FBI’s most absurd and fact-free political narratives—that “white supremacist” terrorists pose a danger to the country. Coverage of the alleged kidnapping plot dominated the news as Whitmer eagerly played the role of victim to Donald Trump’s villain in another example of the FBI interfering in a presidential election to damage Trump.
The FBI announced D’Antuono’s new gig in an October 13, 2020 press release. Ten days later, a handful of agents in the Washington field office conducted a five-hour voluntary interview with Tony Bobulinski, a former business partner of Hunter Biden. Bobulinski told Fox News host Tucker Carlson this week that “as much [sic] as six federal agents” participated in the meeting; Bobulinski walked through his background with the Bidens and discussed records associated with their business ventures. One FBI official gave Bobulinski’s lawyers the cell phone number for Tim Thibault, the assistant special agent in charge of the Washington FBI field office and so-called point person on the matter.
Thibault spoke with Bobulinski’s lawyer a few times over the course of the following week but Bobulinski told Carlson that was the last time he heard from the FBI. And there is a reason why: according to FBI whistleblowers, Thibault quickly shut down any investigation into Hunter Biden. “[In] October 2020, an avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting was ordered closed at the direction of ASAC Thibault,” Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland in July. Thibault was already under Senate scrutiny for his social media activity that showed extreme bias against Trump and his administration.
“In addition, ASAC Thibault allegedly ordered the matter closed without providing a valid reason as required by FBI guidelines. Despite the matter being closed in such a way that the investigative avenue might be opened later, it’s alleged that FBI officials, including ASAC Thibault, subsequently attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future.” (Thibault resigned in August and lawyered up.)
So, was Steven D’Antuono one of the “officials” who tried to further bury an inquiry into the Democratic nominee for president and his family, the same nominee on the campaign trail at the time ranting about how domestic terrorists loyal to Trump tried to abduct and assasinate the governor of Michigan? Was D’Antuono moved from one partisan assignment to another, right before Election Day?
After all, the bureau knew full well that details about the Biden family’s illicit financial arrangements with foreign states hostile to American interests and national security would be released at the most inopportune time for the Bidens that fall—which is why the FBI plotted a pre-emptive strike, designating coverage of Hunter Biden as more election-year skullduggery by the Russians. “[The] allegations provided to my office appear to indicate that there was a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation,” Grassley wrote in the same letter.
That acted as the justification for Thibault and, presumably, D’Antuono, to end any investigative pursuit into the laptop’s contents or Bobulinski’s claims. A few months later, good fortune would again grace D’Antuono’s career: the events of January 6 placed D’Antuono on center stage as his office took the lead in investigating and arresting Americans involved in the Capitol protest. During a January 12, 2021 press conference, D’Antuono condemned the “brutality” of that day and promised it “would not be tolerated by the FBI.” D’Antuono warned protesters that FBI agents would work around the clock and around the country to bring justice—which is precisely what the agency has done over the past 21 months, conducting traumatizing raids even for nonviolent offenders.
D’Antuono also pledged to find the suspect who allegedly planted explosive devices outside the headquarters of both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee on the evening of January 5. Calling it a “top priority” of the FBI’s investigation into the events of January 6, D’Antuono for months perpetuated the idea that a pipe bomber, obsensibly tied to the “insurrection,” intended to blow up major buildings near the Capitol right as the joint session of Congress convened. “These pipe bombs were viable devices that could have been detonated, resulting in serious injury or death,” D’Antuono said in a dramtic video message posted in March 2021. The bomber, D’Antuono claimed in an effort to urge the public to help identify the perpetrator, “may have shown an increased fixation on the current political climate.” He offered a $100,000 reward to capture the alleged bomber.
But 21 months later, with every surveillance and investigative tool at his disposal, D’Antuono has yet to arrest a suspect while the FBI’s interest in the convenient and narrative-building “crime” appears to have waned.
Of course, D’Antuono and his agents are very busy with other matters such as building a criminal case against Trump. A special agent in his office signed the affidavit seeking the search warrant to raid Mar-a-Lago, a nine-hour pillage conducted on August 8 under the ruse that Trump illegally kept classified documents; several of D’Antuono’s agents were involved in the raid, which resulted in the confiscation of 200,000 pages of presidential and personal records as well as clothing items, books, press clippings, and letters. (A recently unsealed inventory list shows FBI agents even stole medical information, correspondence on legal matters, and insurance coverage.) Of the 11,000-plus documents, only about 100 allegedly contain “classified markings.”
If Chris Wray is the chief of the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party, once known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, then Steven D’Antuono is his hatchet man. It’s not a coincidence that his name appears prominently in the most brazen anti-Trump stunts conducted by the FBI in the past two years. If Republican leaders like Grassley are truly interested in finding the source of the political rot in the FBI, they should start with D’Antuono.