(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The alleged “ringleaders” of the 2020 militia conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed appeals on Wednesday to overturn their convictions due to FBI malfeasance and a lack of a fair trial.
The appeals from Adam Fox and Barry Croft, who were convicted last August after their second trial, cite numerous reasons for overturning their guilty verdicts.
For starters, Croft and Fox’s lawyers said they were improperly limited in questioning government’s star witness. The lawyers also said they were denied the ability to vet a juror who had expressed bias against the defendants.
Moreover, the jury was never presented evidence that FBI agents were pressuring their undercover informants to provoke the defendants to criminality, according to the appeals.
To that last point, Fox’s appeal explained how the federal judge presiding over the trial didn’t allow the thousands of text messages between FBI informants and their handling agents to be presented as evidence.
“Critical to Fox’s defense was the need to show his jury the complete and incessant communications between the informants and their handlers,” the appeal said.
“This was particularly true with informant Dan Chappel and his handler, Agent Chambers; they exchanged 3,236 messages between March 16, 2020 and October 8, 2020,” the appeal said.
“Many of these messages goaded Chappel into action, critiqued Chappel’s performance, and offered suggestions to move Fox beyond rhetoric into prosecutable actions. Equally important were Chappel’s responses to his handler’s statements.”
The judge’s decision to not allow the texts as evidence was at odds with case precedent, which deems the government’s informants to be agents of the government, Fox’s appeal argued.
According to Croft, jurors would have clearly seen through the FBI’s entrapment scheme if such evidence was presented to them.
“It is staggering the extent to which the FBI and its agents/informants used excessive pressure, exploited the anger from COVID lockdowns and destructive summer riots, and manipulated emotional issues among vulnerable and excitable citizens,” Croft’s appeal said.
“This included: nearly constant real-time monitoring of FBI’s communications with Fox, plus thousands of government-initiated texts/chats; the deployment of multiple paid agents/informants who sought to elicit and encourage extremist and violent behavior; and the FBI’s instigating, planning, promoting, and conducting of nearly all key event,” the appeal said.
Along with appealing his conviction for the abovementioned reasons, Fox and Croft also argued that prosecutors never proved that they agreed to a final plan to kidnap Whitmer.
“Most importantly, there was no agreement when the mission was to occur. Despite telling Chappel that his skills were deficient, Fox changed his mind after the [a militia training session in September 2020] and now wanted to proceed before the election while others wanted to wait,” Fox’s appeal said.
“At this time, there was to be one more FTX before the mission, but it never occurred. Without an agreement on when the mission should occur, the conspiratorial agreement wasn’t formed. Instead, the only agreement in place after the Luther FTX in September was everyone was to return home and train.”
The government has until Sept. 15 to respond to the appeals. In the meantime, Fox and Croft are both being held in high-security prisons designed to prevent them from talking to the public.
Next week, three more men will stand trial on state charges in relation to the 2020 Whitmer kidnap conspiracy.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.