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Far-right Republicans push conspiracies after Whitmer kidnap plot acquittals

By: - April 11, 2022 4:15 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Flint drive-in rally for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with former President Barack Obama, Oct. 31, 2020 | Andrew Roth

After two suspects in the alleged plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were found not guilty last week, some Republicans in Michigan and nationwide are blaming the FBI, saying the plot was “politicized” and denying it happened altogether.

On Friday, a jury found that Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, two of the four men, accused of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home in northern Michigan have been acquitted of charges. The jury did not reach a verdict on the other two and they will be retried.

While many were concerned that this verdict could set a precedent allowing for violent threats against public officials, others on the far-right saw this as a victory against what they contend was a political move orchestrated by the state government and FBI.

Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno tweeted Saturday that he predicted the “Whitmer kidnapping sham was entrapment by the FBI designed to create a false narrative before the election.” He made this comment just days after the news broke in October 2020 on a right-wing talk show with host Randy Bishop, a.k.a. “Trucker Randy.”

“I can’t wait to investigate this one. [Whitmer] stop shredding docs and deleting emails,” DePerno tweeted.

DePerno also shared a cartoon that depicted the FBI creating the kidnapping plot and Whitmer surrounded by a fake fire.

DePerno, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is facing former House Speaker Tom Leonard and state Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.) for the GOP nomination for attorney general. The nominee will be chosen at the state convention April 23 in Grand Rapids and will then face off against Attorney General Dana Nessel in November. 

Another Republican hopeful, who is vying for a seat in the state House, Robert Regan, posted on Facebook Friday that “everyone who has followed this story from the start knew this was fabricated by the tyrant in Lansing.”

Some conservatives from out of state also chimed in on the post-verdict discourse to spread conspiracy theories.

A Republican congressman from Texas, Troy Nehls, tweeted that the “media and FBI should be held accountable” for the kidnapping plot.

Dinesh D’Souza, a longtime figure in right-wing politics and podcast host, tweeted that the verdict is a “guilty verdict for the FBI on multiple counts of entrapment. These thugs with badges need to be held to account!”

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.