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Kidnap suspects discussed 'taking out' Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Ralph Northam
Posted at 10:28 AM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 18:30:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also discussed "taking out" Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, according to a report in The Detroit News.

FBI Special Agent Richard Trask who testified during a hearing in the case Tuesday morning mentioned Northam's connection to the alleged crime.

Trask did not name Northam during his testimony, according to the Associated Press. He said members of anti-government groups from multiple states attended the meeting.

“They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders,” Trask said. He said the people at the meeting were unhappy with the governors’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trask did not discuss further planning aimed at Northam.

The FBI did not brief Northam on any potential threat.

"The FBI alerted key members of the Governor’s security team throughout the course of their investigation. Per security protocols for highly-classified information, neither the Governor nor other members of his staff were informed. At no time was the Governor or his family in imminent danger," Governor Northam's Press Secretary Alena Yarmosky wrote in an email. "Enhanced security measures have been in place for Governor Northam and his family for quite some time, and they will remain."

"Here’s the reality: President Trump called upon his supporters to "LIBERATE VIRGINIA" in April — just like Michigan. In fact, the President regularly encourages violence against those who disagree with him. The rhetoric coming out of this White House has serious and potentially deadly consequences. It must stop," added Yarmosky.

When asked for a statement, the White House provided the following response.

“President Trump has continually condemned white supremacists and all forms of hate," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. "Governor Whitmer, and now Governor Northam, are sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.”

Northam addressed the situation when he delivered an in-person COVID-19 briefing Tuesday afternoon.

"I do want to emphasize that the First Lady and I are safe thanks to the measures taken by the Executive Protection Unit, which is staffed by an extensively trained team of Virginia State Police personnel and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police," said Northam. "There is no imminent danger to me or my family and I'm continuing my work for the Commonwealth as I would any other day."

When asked about his office's statement regarding Pres. Trump's tweets and rhetoric, Northam drew parallels to his time serving in Iraq with the U.S Army.

"We knew who the enemy was. We knew it was dangerous. We knew we were in harm's way. But I wasn't intimidated by that. And I was proud to to fight for my country," said Northam. "What is different now, which is concerning to me, is that the people that are making comments and the rhetoric about our elected officials...this rhetoric is not coming from another country. It's coming from Washington. And that I regret and it needs to stop."

"When language is used such as to 'Liberate Virginia', people, they find meaning in those words. And thus, these things happen. And that's regrettablem" added Northam.

A judge will determine whether the five men accused in the Whitmer kidnap plot should be detained before trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens will oversee the bail and detention proceeding in Grand Rapids Tuesday.

Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta — all Michigan residents — will appear.

A sixth man, Barry Croft, is being held in Delaware.

The FBI made arrests after using confidential sources, undercover agents, and clandestine recordings to foil the alleged conspiracy.

Some defendants allegedly surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home.

This is a developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.