The FBI has made a complete mess of that supposed kidnap plot, because it was their own.
With the raid on Mar-A-Lago developing into a bigger and bigger PR problem for the DOJ and the FBI, there might in fact be a benefit to it as well. It could serve as a distraction away from another mess they have created. Recently, I was a guest host for the Pete Kaliner show and at one point I covered the Senate hearing taking place with FBI director Christopher Wray. One aspect I mentioned that day was how the head of the Detroit field office involved with the Whitmer investigation was promoted to the D.C. branch and is now overseeing the January 6 investigation.
Ted Cruz was pointed in his questioning to Wray on this matter, and those questions got me going down that rabbit hole to see just what has become of the case of the Whitmer kidnapping.
Well, it has become more of a mess.
For a quick overview, 12 individuals were supposedly hatching a plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer over her handling of the COVID pandemic, a scheme the FBI supposedly foiled. Of the dozen, four members of the clan involved have gone to trial. This begins the problems for The Bureau.
After so much build-up from the DOJ and fueled by rampant media coverage things basically blew up in the face of The Bureau. Two of those members had been acquitted when it was found they were entrapped, and the other two, including the alleged ringleader Adam Fox, resulted in a hung jury. The federal government commenced the retrial of Fox and co-conspirator Barry Croft on August 9. The problems remain for the government, and what was once a highly touted case that seemed a slam dunk has become a black eye for the DOJ and the FBI.
It is more than speculation to suggest a relationship might exist between the Bureau and the Whitmer camp. Mark Totten takes over as the US Attorney in the FBI office in the area, but this has led to an entanglement. A Biden nominee, he took over shortly after the Fox ruling, and now that the government has opened this new retrial Totten has to recuse himself from the process. This is because he was formerly Gretchen Whitmer’s chief legal advisor since she took office.
The case, from the perspective of the FBI, is a complete mess. So many of the primary players for the Feds in this case have been chased off due to their actions. One of the primary witnesses said to be the force behind the plot, Stephen Robeson, was the primary informant for the FBI, but they seem to have burned him. Robeson was brought up on gun charges and never called as a witness after.
Then, no fewer than three of the FBI agents involved in the plot had been removed from the court case as well, over various issues. And just to add to the list of names, the primary prosecutor Jonathan Roth announced he was stepping down from the case. As this second trial is about to wrap up and go to the jury more questions abound. The Totten issue seems compelling because of the involvement of the Feds with Whitmer during this comedy of errors.
Governor Whitmer alluded to the fact that she had been appraised of the plot ahead of time, telling CNN’s Erin Burnett, immediately after the arrests, that she had learned of the issue “in recent weeks”. Now, this surely could indicate that she was being warned and having security stepped up to protect her. But then there is the need to question the level of involvement, and with whom. If the Whitmer camp was working with the Feds then how involved were they with the discredited and dismissed agents, and/or informants?
The other hurdle for the prosecutors is the agency itself. The FBI has done itself no favors in recent weeks in bolstering an image of an unimpeachable law enforcement division. Already under fire over claims of bias over the years, the March trial leading to a mess of a result was a further question mark, then the backlash to the Mar-A-Lago raid adds to the character debasement. As the Times heard from one expert:
Still, prosecutors may choose to shore up informant testimony with more supporting evidence than they would have previously, and may be more aware of skepticism of federal law enforcement, said Barbara McQuade, who served as the top federal prosecutor in Detroit.
“I think there was a time when prosecutors assumed that just because an F.B.I. agent said it was true, a jury would believe it,” Ms. McQuade, who now teaches law at the University of Michigan, said this week before the search at Mr. Trump’s home was publicly known. “And I think we live in a time when that is no longer the case.”
Add to this the other wrinkle that emerged from this case, when one witness detailed how the FBI was helping to have the Michigan Capitol opened up for protestors during a gathering in 2020. As closing arguments of this retrial take place today the FBI is not operating from a point of unquestioned strength before its case gets handed to the jury. The credibility of the Bureau has been severely damaged of late, and it comes at its own hands.