90 Miles From Tyranny : The Other Fednapping Plot

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Other Fednapping Plot

The same FBI operation that ginned up the phony kidnapping plot in Michigan also tried to coax a Virginia man to participate in a similar scheme against Governor Ralph Northam.

n the spring of 2020, President Donald Trump posted three tweets in a row aimed at Democratic governors continuing to impose draconian lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” Trump tweeted on the morning of April 17, 2020. A few moments later, he tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA!”

His tweets coincided with anti-lockdown rallies in several states, including a blockade around the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing a few days prior. As usual, the media expressed shock and horror at the innocuous tweets, insisting the president was encouraging violence against his political rivals.

“One shudders to contemplate what sorts of actions right-wing protesters might take if they interpret Trump’s call for them to ‘LIBERATE’ their states seriously,” perpetual drama queen Aaron Rupar wrote at Vox. Over at the Washington Post, Mary McCord, a former top official for Obama’s Justice Department who now serves as a legal advisor to the January 6 Select Committee, claimed Trump advocated “the overthrow of democracy” and “incited insurrection” with his tweets—a stunningly prescient observation considering how the events of January 6 would later be described.

“The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee tweeted on April 17, also foreshadowing terms subsequently applied to the Capitol protest.

Less than six months later, Trump’s critics appeared vindicated when law enforcement authorities arrested several men for conspiring to kidnap and possibly kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ahead of the 2020 presidential election, a plan now exposed as a case of FBI entrapment. A Michigan jury acquitted two defendants last week and could not reach a verdict on two other defendants in what the government considered one of the largest domestic terrorism investigations ever. (The Justice Department just announced it will retry Adam Fox and Barry Croft, Jr., who remain in jail.)

Defense attorneys successfully argued that multiple FBI agents and informants attempted to induce the men to commit the crimes and blasted the government in closing arguments.

“That’s unacceptable in America,” Fox’s attorney, Christopher Gibbons, told the jury on April 1. “That’s not how it works. They don’t make terrorists so we can arrest them.”

But the government not only attempted to manufacture “terrorists” in the Whitmer kidnapping hoax—the same FBI operation also tried to coax a man in Virginia to participate in the same sort of plot against Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. That scheme didn’t fully materialize, but the FBI’s attempt to pull off a similar stunt in Virginia reveals just how far agents were willing to go to bolster FBI Director Christopher Wray’s false warning that domestic extremists planned to “kill and assassinate” public officials.

In summer 2020, Dan Chappel, the main informant in the Whitmer fednapping who was compensated at least $60,000 by the FBI for his services, targeted a man named Frank Butler, a disabled veteran in his late 60s and an alleged militia member. Taking instructions from Jayson Chambers, one of his FBI handling agents, Chappel used the same playbook in...

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