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Plot to kidnap Michigan’s Whitmer leads to three more convictions

Donald Trump insisted that the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was “fake.” Juries keep disagreeing.


It was two years ago this month when federal and state law enforcement officials in Michigan announced charges in a stunning plot. According to the allegations, a group of radicals conspired to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, bring the Democrat to a “secure location,” and subject her to a faux treason “trial.”

As regular readers may recall, Donald Trump responded to the news by immediately going on the offensive — not against the threat of domestic terrorism, but rather, against the governor. As recently as a couple of months ago, the former president declared at a far-right gathering, “[T]his thing they did involving Gretchen Whitmer was fake. Just like those who instigated Jan. 6. It was a fake deal. Fake. It was a fake deal.”

Juries keep reaching the opposite conclusion. In August, two men were convicted as part of the plot, and as the Associated Press reported, the list of convictions grew longer yesterday.

Three men accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor were convicted of all charges Wednesday, a triumph for state prosecutors after months of mixed results in the main case in federal court. Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar were found guilty of providing “material support” for a terrorist act as members of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen.

The AP report added that the men held gun drills with the leader of the scheme, and as part of the trial, “jurors read and heard violent, anti-government screeds as well as support for the ‘boogaloo,’ a civil war that might be triggered by a shocking abduction.”

It’s a safe bet that Trump won’t have any interest in revisiting his comments about the violent plot being “fake,” but let’s not forget that he wasn’t the only Republican who adopted a dismissive attitude about the thwarted scheme. This NBC News report from last month came to mind yesterday in light of the latest legal developments.

Tudor Dixon, Michigan’s GOP nominee for governor, joked about a 2020 kidnapping plot against rival Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a pair of campaign events Friday, sparking swift denunciations from Democrats. “The sad thing is that Gretchen will tie your hands, put a gun to your head and ask if you are ready to talk. For someone so worried about getting kidnapped, Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking business hostage and holding it for ransom,” Dixon said at one event.

“Threats of violence and dangerous rhetoric undermine our democracy and discourage good people on both sides of the aisle at every level from entering public service,” a spokesperson for Whitmer said at the time. “Threats of violence — whether to Governor Whitmer or to candidates and elected officials on the other side of the aisle — are no laughing matter, and the fact that Tudor Dixon thinks it’s a joke shows that she is absolutely unfit to serve in public office.”

As best as I can tell, the Republican gubernatorial nominee did not make light of yesterday’s convictions.