FBI raid linked to threats against Michigan judge in Whitmer kidnapping case

FBI agents raided a home near Detroit in connection to reported threats against a judge and defense lawyers involved in the trial of men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, authorities said Wednesday.

A home was searched Friday in Hazel Park, a suburb just north of Detroit, FBI Special Agent Mara Schneider said in a statement.

“FBI Detroit will work closely with other FBI field offices and with our law enforcement partners across the country to identify the source of any threat made to anyone involved with the ongoing prosecution in Grand Rapids,” according to Schneider.

“Individuals found responsible for making threats in violation of state and/or federal law will be referred for prosecution in the appropriate jurisdiction.”

A federal courthouse in Grand Rapids is the site of four men on trial for allegedly plotting to kidnap Whitmer.

The Detroit News on Tuesday, citing two unidentified sources familiar with the investigation, reported that the raid was connected to threats being made against Chief US District Judge Robert Jonker and defense lawyers Josh Blanchard and Christopher Gibbons.

Jonker is presiding over the Grand Rapids trial of accused plot ringleaders Barry Croft and Adam Fox, and Blanchard and Gibbons are their attorneys.

A law enforcement official confirmed to NBC News that it was Jonker, Blanchard and Gibbons who received threats.

As they entered court in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Blanchard and Gibbons told NBC affiliate WOOD that they had received threats but are not worried about them.

“Marshals are taking good care of us,” Blanchard said. “I think we’re all comfortable with what they’re doing for us.”

Gibbons said he had been subjected to “a general threat” but dismissed it as a “lot of big talk.”

“I think we’re doing good,” Gibbons added. “We have security. We’re doing fine.”

Back in October 2020, more than a dozen men were arrested on federal and state charges in connection with the alleged, foiled plot to kidnap Whitmer.

The Democratic governor had drawn the ire of far-right activists and others opposed to her restrictions that year aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Armed protesters took to the streets of Lansing, the state capital, during the early days of Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown orders. Then-President Donald Trump famously tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” in April of that year.

pete williams contributed.

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