As New Trial Looms, Justice Department Silent on Whitmer Plot

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Among the many questions Americans deserve to have answered surrounding the FBI’s activities, the Whitmer kidnapping hoax is near the top of the list.

or the first time since the government failed to win a single conviction in the alleged criminal plot to “kidnap” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, a top Justice Department official was publicly confronted about the FBI’s primary role in concocting the hoax.

It was not a welcome line of inquiry, to say the least.

Matthew Olsen, head of the National Security Division, repeatedly rebuffed questions by U.S. Representative Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) about the case during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday. A Michigan jury in April acquitted two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer after defense attorneys successfully argued their clients had been entrapped by the FBI; the jury deadlocked on two other defendants. Shortly after the stunning verdicts were handed down in what the Justice Department considers one of its most prominent “domestic terror” investigations in recent history, prosecutors announced they would retry Barry Croft and Adam Fox, the alleged ringleader of the group.

The new trial involves Olsen’s division, but rather than take time to perform the usual self-indulgent back slapping and preening common among top law enforcement officials during public hearings, Olsen had little to say except to confirm the Whitmer case was a good example of how the Justice Department handles domestic terror threats. 

“I would include that case among many others that are part of our efforts to ensure that people who serve in public office are safe,” Olsen told the committee.

But there is one little problem with Olsen’s comment and one major problem for his department as federal prosecutors prepare to go back to trial on August 9: not only was Whitmer never in danger—she knew about the plan weeks if not months before the alleged kidnappers were arrested. The Justice Department faces a steeper climb in the new trial as it must prove a kidnapping “conspiracy” with two fewer conspirators. (Two original defendants pleaded guilty and will testify for the government.)

By Julie Kelly

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