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FBI agent testifies on alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

An FBI agent is scheduled to return to the witness stand Thursday for a pre-trial hearing for three men accused of being part of an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor.

The pre-trial hearing for defendants Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison and Paul Bellar began Wednesday.  They are facing numerous charges, including providing material support for terrorist acts. 

FBI Special Agent Henrik Impola was the only witness to take the stand on Wednesday. He testified that defendants were part of a militia group known as the Wolverine Watchmen.  

He described, how with the help of a confidential informant who was part of the group, investigators were able to access Wolverine Watchmen's social media and record conversations of its members. 

Impola says on social media members shared memes and photos critical of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. He testified that the group’s members’ hatred of Governor Whitmer intensified as she imposed controversial COVID-19 policies last year.

Impola said one of the defendants talked about throwing a “Molotov Cocktail” through a window of the governor’s home.

But under defense cross examination, Impola conceded that during the past year a lot of people have said “off the wall things.”

Last fall, 14 people were arrested and charged with plotting political violence in Michigan. 

In addition to an alleged plot tokidnap Michigan’s governor, prosecutors claim the group was plotting to storm the state Capitol building. 

Impola testified Wednesday about members of the group taking part in live-fire training exercises, including in rural Jackson County.

But under questioning from defense attorney Andrew Kirkpatrick, the FBI agent admitted that the training did not recreate the state Capitol building nor Whitmer’s home.

Of the 14, eight defendants are facing state charges. Five are charged federally.

One defendant has agreed to a plea deal.

It will be up to the judge to decide at the end of the pre-trial hearing if there is enough evidence to bound over Musico, Morrison and Bellar for trial.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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