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FBI says it foiled plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Whitmer, overthrow Michigan govt.

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DEVELOPING

The FBI said at a Thursday press conference that it has foiled a plot by a right-wing militia to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), as well as overthrow the state government.

Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, agents from multiple federal agencies raided a house in Hartland, Michigan and arrested six men: Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta. All of them are Michiganders except for Croft, who hails from Delaware.

“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence,” said Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “Violence has been prevented today.”

The conspirators planned to kidnap the governor from her vacation home before the November 3 election, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Andrew Birge. For months, the six men collaborated and practiced carrying out the plot with other militia members. Fox wanted to try her for “treason,” according to the authorities.

Gov. Whitmer gained national notoriety at the beginning of the pandemic for her strict lockdown policies, which the State’s Supreme Court recently deemed unconstitutional. Her policies are key to this story because, while fellow Democrats lauded her for them, they have drawn the ire of the far-right. Throughout the pandemic, anti-mask and anti-lockdown demonstrators have routinely staged large protests in the Wolverine State’s capital of Lansing.

Furthermore, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel introduced additional charges against seven separate individuals with ties to the militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen. These individuals, said Nessel, “are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence, intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the Capitol Building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan.”

She then noted that “these charges are subject to change after a complete review of the evidence obtained last night and may differ from those charged at the federal level.”

The agencies which participated in the operation include the FBI, the U.S. Attorneys for the Western and Eastern Districts of Michigan, the Michigan Attorney General, and the Michigan State Police.

All of six men face life in prison, and the investigation is ongoing.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Five returned rental cars used by Biden’s Secret Service burst into flames

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A bizarre situation involving rental cars used during one of President Joe Biden’s trips has social media and conspiracy theorists busy with speculation.

The day after President Joe Biden left Nantucket for his Thanksgiving holiday, five Hertz rental cars hired by his Secret Service detail burst into flames in the airport parking lot.

The Nantucket Current tweeted out photos and wrote, “The cars were owned by Hertz, and had just been returned by members of the Secret Service who had been using them during President Biden’s visit, sources said.”

A fire “involving multiple rental vehicles recently used by Secret Service agents erupted early Monday morning at Nantucket Memorial Airport,” reported the Current.

According to a statement from Nantucket Memorial Airport, at 5:22 a.m. on Monday, airport staff observed an active fire through the closed circuit TV system in the rental car overflow area. Local fire and police departments responded and contained the fire.

“Something very fishy going on,” one YouTube user commented on the Nantucket Current’s video. “No freakin’ way was this a coincidence. Absolutely no way,” wrote another.

An investigation is underway. The working theory is that the fire started in a Ford Expedition, which was under a safety recall since May due to a faulty battery junction box that has been known to cause underhood fires. The recall affects 66,000 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators manufactured between December 2020 and April 2021.

“We believe these vehicle fires can be traced to a circuit board supplier that changed manufacturing locations during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Ford’s website. “The printed circuit boards produced there are sometimes susceptible to a high-current short.”

“Of the eight fire allegations, six occurred while the vehicle was parked and off, and two occurred while driving,” says the initial March 2022 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the part of the Department of Transportation that investigates car safety issues. Interestingly, the eight vehicles were owned by multiple rental car companies at various locations.

By mid-May, the government had 16 reports of underhood fires in 2021 Expedition and Navigator vehicles. Of those, 14 were rental vehicles and 12 of the fires had occurred while the vehicle was parked with the engine off. Consequently, Ford has advised owners that these vehicles should be parked outdoors and away from buildings.

In an email to Forbes, Hertz confirmed that it was working with the local authorities on their investigation but did not confirm that the Explorer in question had been scheduled for service under the recall.

 

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