Jury acquits 2 men in plot to kidnap Michigan governor: 'The normalization of political violence'
Two men accused of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) have been acquitted by a federal jury, who was unable to reach a verdict on similar charges against two other defendants in the case, The New York Times reports Friday. The jury had begun deliberating on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker declared a mistrial for Adam Fox and Barry Croft, while Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were found not guilty of kidnapping conspiracy, per CNN.
All four men were facing up to life in prison if convicted.
The outcome of the case is a "significant defeat" for federal prosecutors, who are said to have sat in silence as the verdicts were read and Harris and Caserta hugged their lawyers, the Times writes.
The verdict also seems to indicate that the jury agreed to at least some degree "with defense claims that FBI agents entrapped the men in a violent plot shortly before the 2020 election," The Washington Post notes.
A July 2021 Buzzfeed News investigation into the incident suggested FBI informants "had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception," and that "the extent of [informants'] involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them."
"Today, Michiganders and Americans — especially our children — are living through the normalization of political violence," Whitmer's office said of the verdict in a statement. "The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we must be honest about what it really is: the result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country."
"The governor remains focused on her work on behalf of Michigan and all Michiganders."