GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The federal jury heard the child-like excitement in Adam Fox’s voice as he first rode slowly past Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s cottage in an undercover informant’s pickup truck.
“That’s it, dude,” Fox said in the secretly recorded conversation captured in August 2020. “That’s it. That’s it. That’s f—— it, to a f—— tee.”
Fox, one of the four men accused in the plot to kidnap the governor, had a rough idea of where to find the cottage near Elk Lake as he and two other men headed up there that day. One of those men was an informant, identified as Big Dan, who was wearing a hidden recording device.
“We’re just checking out Pure Michigan, dude,” Fox said in a recorded conversation. “You know, we’re seeing if the roads are being fixed.”
Big Dan testified on Friday in the trial that Fox had researched news stories on Google to locate the area of the cottage on Birch Lake, just off US-31. He then used a real estate app to find the exact address.
Before they got there, an FBI surveillance team was already in place.
Federal prosecutors showed the jury photographs taken by the surveillance team of Big Dan’s pickup truck as it rolled past the cottage that day and another as the truck drove past the nearby Elk Rapids Police Department.
The jurors also heard Fox’s excitement as he and the others found a boat launch near Whitmer’s cottage.
“We could launch an f—– boat, pull the boat, drop the boat, take the b—- and go,” Fox said in the recording.
Big Dan was an Army veteran who said he joined the Wolverine Watchmen militia for training in March 2020, but said he grew alarmed when talk turned toward killing police.
That led him to talk to a police officer he knew and eventually become an informant for the FBI, which paid him $54,000.
Big Dan said the FBI paid him for expenses and sometimes missed time from his job at the U.S. Postal Service to work undercover. For that, the FBI paid him $38 a day, he said.
At one point during the investigation, he sold his house and moved after a member of the group found out where he lived, he said. He moved, he said, “for the safety of myself and my daughter.”
Eventually, he said, the Wolverine Watchmen were talking about kidnapping the governor.
He carried a recording device at militia meetings, training exercises and on the trips to stake out the governor’s cottage in northern Michigan.
He testified that Fox orchestrated the second reconnaissance of the cottage near Elk Rapids on a rainy night in September 2020 — militia members, undercover FBI agents and informants in three vehicles. They had a pair of night-vision goggles and walkie-talkies.
The other accused co-leader, Barry Croft Jr., of Delaware, was there, too, but he had expected more, the informant said.
“Croft thought they were going after the governor that night, so he wanted to get a nap in,” the informant said.
Fox spoke about snatching the governor, Big Dan said, holding her with flex cuffs and putting a hood over her head.
Fox showed Big Dan the route they’d take once they grabbed Whitmer — a drive of less than two minutes to a sandy trail through pine trees that leads to a private beach on Lake Michigan.
He said Fox had planned that route on Google.
The next morning, Big Dan said, Fox called a “circle of trust” meeting at the group’s training site in Luther.
They spoke about their need to expedite the kidnapping. That if, Joe Biden got elected president, he could nominate Whitmer to a Cabinet position, which would lead to tighter security.
Big Dan said the group planned one more training session in Wisconsin in October 2020.
“Fox wanted to do it before the (November) election,” Big Dan testified.
The jury on Monday also heard secret recordings from suspect Daniel Harris, who talked about bombs and preferred just shooting the governor.
“Just cap her,” he said, suggesting posing as a pizza delivery man.
They also heard Croft talking about his legacy.
“Listen, this is the last act of my life, sir,” he said in a recorded conversation with Big Dan.
In another recorded conversation, Croft spoke about kidnapping the governor of Virginia and interrogating him.
“You’ve hurt a lot of people and they’re going to be your judge,” he said.
Croft also spoke of holding a trial for Whitmer because “treason is a hanging offense.”
At a diner near Cambria, Wisconsin, after a training exercise, Croft did most of the talking.
“You don’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. So, unfortunately, bad decisions have put us in a place where a few eggs are going to have to be broken,” Croft said in the recording.
The trial continues Monday.