GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Wolverine Watchmen militia member Daniel Harris, accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, didn’t mince words when asked about one of the FBI’s key informants in the case.
“He’s a b—-,” Harris responded without hesitation on the witness stand, launching a heated exchange with the federal prosecutor, who asked him to explain himself.
Next question, Harris snapped.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathon Roth demanded an answer.
“You’re scared by words?” Harris said of the informant, Dan Chappel. “Words hurt you? Words scare you? You’re an (expletive). Words are words.”
It was “Big Dan,” a military veteran, who first went to police in the spring of 2020 to report the Wolverine Watchmen were talking about killing cops.
Defense attorneys rested their cases on Thursday in the federal trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap the governor: Harris, Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., and Brandon Caserta.
Two of the defense attorneys called witnesses. Some defense witnesses were dismissed after pleading the Fifth Amendment.
Attorneys will make closing statements on Friday, then jurors will start deliberating. On Thursday, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker ruled that jurors would be able to consider the entrapment defense.
Harris, a 24-year-old former Marine, was the only defendant in the case who took the witness stand, and the courtroom was packed.
He repeatedly denied conspiring to kidnap the governor.
The Lake Orion Baptist High School graduate said he was working as a security guard and living in his parents’ basement in Lake Orion when he joined the Wolverine Watchmen for military training.
He downplayed the militia meetings and the training, though he said he liked to blow things up.
Harris accused Big Dan of being the leader, not Fox. He said it was Big Dan who asked him to find a bomb-maker.
Defense attorneys have argued that it was Chappel and other informants who were orchestrating the alleged plot.
However, prosecutors on Thursday played a recorded jail call between Harris and his father that they said shows Harris didn’t believe that Chappel was the leader.
In the call, Harris told his father he had seen co-defendant Fox at the Newaygo County Jail, where they’ve been held.
“I didn’t make eye contact,” he told his father. “He’s the reason I’m here.”
Harris trash-talked the accused co-leaders, Fox and Croft, calling Croft “a stoner-pirate kind of whack nut,” though he said he kind of liked him. Croft often wore a three-point hat.
Harris said he never went to meetings at the Vac Shack in the city of Wyoming, where Fox lived and where some militia members met.
“Everything was in my head that my parents taught me as a child, ‘Don’t get into cars with strangers,'” he testified.
He said Fox never went to his parents’ house, where Harris lived. “He’s not allowed at my house.”
Harris at one point had talked about making pressure cookers, or bombs, to be prepared, “if the (expletive) hits the fan.”
When his attorney, Julia Kelly, asked what he meant by that, he talked about if the “world as you know it is no more … there is no more government. It’s like Red Dawn.”
When the federal prosecutor asked about Gov. Whitmer and if she was “just a governor doing her job?” Harris responded: “Very poorly, Yes.”
Harris’s attorney wouldn’t comment on his testimony.
Croft’s attorney, Joshua Blanchard, said he believed it helped their case, showing the jury “he’s a nice kid that got wrapped into this by the government.”