Coordinated demolitions, snipers taking out armed guards, and a getaway with two helicopters were some of the wild details of an alleged conspiracy by the Wolverine Watchmen militia to kidnap Michigan’s governor in the summer of 2020.
But according to the Watchmen standing trial for this alleged plot, these plans were hatched after they were drunk and high—sometimes at the hand of an FBI informant.
Defense attorney Josh Blanchard made that argument during his opening statement on March 9, responding to multiple recordings of his client, Barry Croft, calling for violence against law enforcement, government officials, and civilians.
“I might kill a cop,” Croft allegedly said at a June 6, 2020, meeting of Three Percenters in Dublin, Ohio. “You can tell the feds Barry Croft did it.”
These quotes and others were captured by former FBI informant Steve Robeson, who had organized the Dublin meeting. Blanchard told the jury on March 9 that Robeson supplied marijuana to Croft before he made his calls for violence.
“They [the FBI] ignored that their snitch was rolling blunts with [Croft],” Blanchard said.
The use of drugs and alcohol by the defendants has been highlighted by other attorneys, too.
Julia Kelly, who’s representing Daniel Harris, noted that Robeson’s wife can be heard laughing at Croft in the same recording of the Dublin meeting—asking Croft if he’s “too high to stand.”
Defense attorney Christopher Gibbons, who is representing Adam Fox, also noted that “copious amounts of marijuana was smoked” at a July 2020 barbecue where his client allegedly spoke of capturing Whitmer.
The informant recording Fox at that barbecue—a man who’s only been identified in court as “Mark”—only had one Bud Light while Fox and other people at the party imbibed heavily, Gibbons said.
FBI informants supplying targets of investigations with drugs is a clear violation of the Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding The Use of Confidential Informants, former FBI agent Marc Ruskin told The Epoch Times.
Among other provisions, the AG Guidelines prohibit informants from obtaining information in a way that would be unlawful if conducted by a law enforcement agent, as well as restrictions on informants providing their targets with gifts.
Even though cannabis is legal in Michigan, it’s still a federally prohibited substance.
“In my experience, you can’t authorize informants to provide drugs to anyone who’s a subject of an investigation. I just don’t see it,” said Ruskin, author of “The Pretender: My Life Undercover for the FBI.”
“I can conceivably see an informant being authorized to smoke marijuana if he has no other choice, but this seems beyond the bounds.”
Ruskin, also a former defense attorney and a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney, said informants supplying defendants with cannabis doesn’t make their statements inadmissible in court. But it does give defense attorneys plenty of fodder for the jury, he said.
“If the case is being done with integrity and in an aboveboard manner by the DOJ, they wouldn’t accept it because it would be in violation of the AG guidelines,” Ruskin said.
“And one of the reasons for that is the credibility of the informant would be so compromised that the jury wouldn’t give it any weight.”
In this case, prosecutors won’t be using Robeson as a witness. Prosecutors have said they won’t use Robeson because he was actually a “double agent” who warned the defendants about the FBI’s investigation, but the defense argues that the real reason is the one offered by Ruskin: Robeson’s credibility is shot.
Instead, the defense has subpoenaed Robeson to testify about his role in the investigation.
“I just talked with their investigator, and I still don’t understand why,” Robeson told Michigan news station Target 8 outside the courthouse on March 8. “I don’t have nothing against them, but I don’t know what I can do to help them.”
Robeson also denied being a double agent.
“That’s not true, and I’m not anti-government on this. I don’t know what’s being discussed. There’s a recording for everything that’s happened, and the recordings will show themselves for what they are,” he said.
All four of the defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Meanwhile, the trial has been delayed due to COVID-19, according to a court document filed on March 13. The document says that an essential trial participant has developed potential COVID-19 symptoms over the weekend.
Pending further complications, the court hopes to reconvene for trial on March 17.