Jury Acquits 3 in Mich. Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Case

A jury in northern Michigan on Friday acquitted twin brothers Michael and William Null, as well as Eric Molitor, who had been accused of participating in the 2020 attempted kidnapping of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer....

Jury Acquits 3 in Mich. Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Case
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Facts

  • A jury in northern Michigan on Friday acquitted twin brothers Michael and William Null, as well as Eric Molitor, who had been accused of participating in the 2020 attempted kidnapping of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.1
  • Prosecutors had argued that the three men — who were charged with providing material support for a terrorist act and illegally possessing firearms — of scouting Whitmer’s vacation home in Antrim County and conspiring in the plot to kidnap by participating in preparatory drills.2
  • Marking an end to the trial, in which eight men were charged on the state level and six on the federal level, a total of nine were convicted or pleaded guilty while five were acquitted. Among those found guilty were the plot's leader, Adam Fox, who was sentenced in December to 16 years in prison.3
  • The defense has argued that a heavy FBI presence in the plot constituted entrapment, with two of the defendants acquitted after their defense argued the FBI's encouragement of the plan constituted entrapment. At least 12 FBI informants or undercover agents were reportedly involved.4
  • During a retrial in August 2022, it was discovered that FBI informants allegedly shared a hotel room and smoked marijuana with one of the defendants, Barry Croft Jr., who had been sentenced to over 19 years in prison the December before. FBI informants reportedly outnumbered actual conspirators.4
  • Molitor and William Null both admitted to attending gun drills, though William said he and his brother Michael left the groups after hearing talk of using explosives; Molitor said he never believed the kidnapping would take place. William Null also said he didn't know he would be surveilling the house.2

Sources: 1New York Times, 2Forbes, 3CNN and 4Daily Caller.

Narratives

  • Right narrative, as provided by New York Post. This entire sham of a kidnapping plot, which was conveniently discovered right before the 2020 election, was all a ploy to make Republicans and Trump supporters look like violent criminals before America went to the polls. At least as many non-FBI agents and informants were part of it as there were actual Feds. The Democrats were successful in gaining consensus for this flawed presentation, so now it's time to admit that the FBI made it all up and entrapped innocent Americans for political purposes.
  • Left narrative, as provided by Washington post. While some of these men have now been acquitted by a jury of their peers, that doesn't mean the militia members heading to prison were innocent, too. This was a violent attempt to use guns and explosives to kidnap a sitting US governor, and both the FBI and the jurors understood the need to put convicted domestic terrorists behind bars. All of these men should be in jail, but that shouldn't stop America from celebrating the convictions that were won to protect democracy from far-right extremism.