A man charged in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor also reportedly wanted to harm President Donald Trump, according to the FBI. The allegations would seem to disprove the accusations made by several Democrats that the plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) was inspired by President Trump’s rhetoric.
Barry Croft, a Delaware resident, is one of six men charged in federal court with conspiracy to kidnap. The men are reportedly members of an extremist paramilitary group that was allegedly planning to kidnap Whitmer because of her restrictive lockdown orders in Michigan.
According to posts on social media, Croft threatened to hurt and hang Democrats, as well as Republicans. Croft made threats against present and former elected leaders in private Facebook posts, special agent Kristopher Long said. Croft posted a hit list on Facebook, which included Trump and former presidents, according to the Detroit News.
“I say we hang everything currently governing us, they’re all guilty!!!” Croft wrote in May on his Facebook page. There was also an image of President Trump with the caption: “Wanna hang this mf’er too…”
In late June, Croft shared a photo of a noose on Facebook that listed people he wanted to see “hang,” including former President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), as well as “Democrats, liberals, Muslims” and “all anti-Americans.”
According to the FBI, Croft wrote on the post, “The entire sitting government, is initiating the self destruct sequence. This is an outrage and will be answered!!!%. [sic]”
Another post reportedly said, “I say we hang everything currently governing us, they’re all guilty!!% And what a deterrent, Rope!!!%”
Another social media post read, “Which Governor is going to end up dragged off, and hung for treason first?”
“There is not one ———— serving in this bull—- government that I don’t want to take, stick to a ————- tree, and dangle…,” Croft said in a Facebook video on May 28, the Detroit News reported.
“I’m for hanging Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians,” Croft reportedly posted on Facebook on or about June 24.
Croft, 44, allegedly wanted to “go to war against the government of North Carolina.”
According to the affidavit, Croft had a conversation with an unidentified person where “potential acts of violence” in South Carolina were discussed. On May 4, Croft made a veiled threat against South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who is a Republican.
“I’ll be in Columbia, SC on Friday,” Croft reportedly wrote. “They say they want their Governor in custody. … I want to grab them all, and hold trial.”
“Yup. I’m going. With Sword,” Croft allegedly said online.
Croft also purportedly said, “I’ll die in defense of the constitution.”
In April, Facebook was said to have shut down Croft’s account for violating the company’s “policy prohibiting certain speech or actions.” However, Croft started a new Facebook account and continued to post anti-government rantings, according to the affidavit.
One of the other suspects charged in the alleged kidnapping plot is Brandon Caserta. The 32-year-old is known as “Debased Tyrant,” and was seen on video calling President Trump a “tyrant” and “enemy.” Footage shows an anarchist flag in the background of the room.
Wow! This is big. Brandon Caserta, one of the ringleaders of the group of men arrested for a plot where the group p… https://t.co/hweUPZ9Oqz
— Robby Starbuck (@Robby Starbuck)1602194844.0
Numerous Democrats blamed President Trump for the extremists’ scheme to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hinted that Trump was at fault for encouraging domestic terrorists.
“It’s the sort of behavior you might expect from ISIS and it should shock the conscience of every American. Every American,” Biden said on Oct. 16. “And the failure to condemn these folks is stunning from the outset.”
“When the president tweeted, ‘liberate Michigan,’ ‘liberate Michigan,’ that’s the call that was heard. That was the dog whistle,” Biden said.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) also blamed Trump by referencing his April tweet regarding Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown of Michigan that read: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
I wonder where they got their motivation from. https://t.co/Sqw8k80SNY https://t.co/mhdSMElz5F
— Rashida Tlaib (@Rashida Tlaib)1602181207.0
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, also a Democrat, suggested that President Trump inspires harassment of his foes.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get some kind of harassment,” Lightfoot said during a news conference on Oct. 8. “There is a real cause and effect when the President names me in a disparaging way, which is usually what he does, and people feeling like they have license to make what I regard as real threats.”
Whitmer has blamed Trump on multiple occasions of inciting the kidnapping plot against her.
“Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry,” Whitmer said earlier this month. “When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.”
President Trump fired back at Whitmer, and once again called for the governor to re-open Michigan.
“Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities. The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan,” the president retorted.
“My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities,” Trump tweeted.
“I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President!” Trump concluded. “Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”
On Oct. 16, a federal judge in Grand Rapids, Michigan, ruled during a preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence against Croft and five other suspects in the alleged kidnapping plot to send the case to a grand jury for possible indictments.
Defense lawyers have portrayed their clients as “big talkers” exercising their First Amendment rights, who never intended to carry out any violence. However, investigators note that some of the suspects surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan and agreed to purchase explosives and tactical gear.
“You’re crossing a pretty serious line when you go in the middle of the night in multiple cars and stage up at a gas station and … you go to the house of the sitting governor of the state to go surveil their house at night,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said.