Michigan governor's accused kidnappers are trying to get their case dismissed
Michael Null, William Mull and Eric Molitor. Arrested militia members involved in Michigan plot to violently attack to state capitol (Photo: mugshots)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was nearly the victim of a kidnapping and assassination plot after far-right militia members were enraged by the COVID-19 lockdowns and mask mandates. Michigan was one of the many early states to have massive outbreaks early on in the pandemic. The thwarted attack came after some of the Wolverine Watchmen militia members turned out to be FBI informants.

Now, those allegedly responsible for plotting the effort are trying to get charges against them dismissed because they think the federal authorities are "overreaching," The Detroit News reported Sunday.

The 20-page court filings from the accused say that federal prosecutors tried to use the state's anger toward Whitmer over COVID-19 to conspire and entrap the five men. They now face up to life in prison if convicted, the report explained.

All five of the defense lawyers submitted the documents on Christmas evening, telling U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker that the conspiracy charges must be dismissed. That is the heart of the case against the men, the filing says.

"The request follows a stream of allegations and developments about the government's team involved in the case," said The Detroit News. "That included the convictions of FBI Special Agent Richard Trask, the government's public face of the investigation who was arrested on a domestic violence charge and later fired and convicted of a misdemeanor; and informant Stephen Robeson, who was dropped by the FBI after being caught illegally possessing a sniper rifle."

"Essentially, the evidence here demonstrates egregious overreaching by the government’s agents, and by the informants those agents handled," defense filing says. "When the government was faced with evidence showing that the defendants had no interest in a kidnapping plot, it refused to accept failure and continued to push its plan."

The FBI's involvement in the case has been a point of anxiety since the men were arrested. There is a fear that the men could walk if the FBI behaved improperly.

"Informants played such a central role in not only collecting evidence, but also pushing the alleged plot along, it may only serve to reinforce the defendants' claims—that they were investigated for their constitutionally-protected political beliefs," the New Republic's Melissa Gira Grant wrote in July. "The American law enforcement and national security apparatus has repeatedly turned away from the threat of white nationalist violence, prompting some to seek corrective action. But in pursuing manufactured plots and exaggerating threats, they aren't addressing white nationalism. They may even be helping cast doubt on real acts of racial terror."

The trial is set to begin in March.