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"I'm not being hypothetical": Jurors hear secret recordings in Whitmer kidnapping case

 Barry Croft of Delaware at an event in Wisconsin in 2020 where an undercover FBI informant captured audio recordings.
U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of Michigan
Barry Croft of Delaware at an event in Wisconsin in 2020 where an undercover FBI informant captured audio recordings.

“You can tell the feds Barry Croft did it.”

Those were the words of Barry Croft in a secret recording made by an FBI informant in June of 2020. Croft is one of four defendants in the federal trial over the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. On Thursday, prosecutors played a series of recordings of Croft and others talking about their plans to “grab” Whitmer and use explosives to try to thwart the police response.

In the recordings from a June 6, 2020 meeting in Dublin, Ohio, Croft tells a group of people he’s going to “go hurt people,” and says he asked permission from God to commit murder.

“I’ve already asked permission. It’s been granted,” Croft says in the recording.

“I might kill a cop,” he continues.

“Hypothetical,” one person on the recording interjects.

“No, I’m not being hypothetical,” Croft says.

The recording took place at a meeting organized by a group of people calling themselves “patriots,” who were upset at the pandemic emergency orders that closed schools and shuttered businesses in a number of states that year. Prosecutors say about 15 people from multiple states attended the meeting at a Drury Inn in Dublin, Ohio. A number of people inside the meeting were FBI informants.

Another defendant, Adam Fox, was also at the June 6 meetings, and tells the others they “need to take all this talk and turn it into action.”

Prosecutors say at the June 6 meeting, Fox and Croft hadn’t settled on their exact target. They discussed multiple possibilities. But their plan focused over that summer, prosecutors say, and they settled on Whitmer as their target.

In another recording made by the same informant in Wisconsin later that summer, Croft says he has “a team standing by to grab a f—ing governor.”

He talks of using explosives to take down a communication tower and attack any police who respond. The idea, Croft explains, would be to create confusion so they could get to the governor.

With police distracted, Croft said they could do “a quick, precise grab on that f—ing governor.”

When another person on the recording expresses confusion about who they’re targeting, Croft, who is from Delaware, responds, “Whitmer. Whitmer. Michigan. Whitmer.”

On Wednesday, during opening statements, Croft’s attorney told jurors they would be hearing a lot of “mean words” from Croft in the prosecutor’s evidence. But attorney Joshua Blanchard claimed Croft was “absolutely bonkers out of your mind stoned” on marijuana during some of the recordings.

Blanchard said Croft made all kinds of outlandish claims in the recordings, saying “water is my friend” and talking about attaching Whitmer to a kite to fly her across Lake Michigan.

“They knew it was just crazy talk, and not a plan,” Blanchard said of the FBI.

Blanchard did not get a chance to cross examine the witness who discussed the secret recordings from Dublin in court on Thursday. That cross examination is expected to happen when the trial resumes on Monday.

Outside of court Thursday, the attorney for Adam Fox reiterated his claim that everything on the recordings was just “talk.”

"It’s a lot of talk,” Christopher Gibbons told reporters outside the courthouse. “That’s what you heard today. And I look forward to moving forward on the case, and getting to some real evidence.”

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