KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the lead FBI agents on the federal kidnapping case involving Michigan’s governor didn’t just betray the badge off-duty, he also showed questionable judgment online by posting an obscenity-laden, anti-Trump tirade.
“If you still support our piece of s–t president you can f–k off,” began the 2020 post on Richard Trask’s personal Facebook page.
As Trask, 40, prepares to enter a plea Monday on charges he beat and choked his wife at their Kalamazoo County home, Target 8 investigators are revealing the contents of a vitriolic, Trump-bashing post on Trask’s personal Facebook page.
Target 8 has also obtained police body camera video of Trask’s July 18, 2021, arrest for allegedly assaulting his wife after they attended a swinger’s party at a Kalamazoo-area hotel.
Trask’s Facebook declaration blasting then-President Donald Trump was dated March 28, 2020.
At the time, the FBI was in the early stages of its investigation into the alleged plot to abduct Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
Trask played a central role in the case, which has since become one of the most politicized in Michigan’s history, with defense attorneys claiming the FBI orchestrated the abduction plan itself through its direction of confidential informants.
Federal prosecutors have argued in court documents that the defendants were predisposed to commit the crime, which the U.S. Department of Justice has described as “fatal to an entrapment defense.”
Trask, a former FBI agent who also coaches CrossFit, titled his 2020 diatribe against the former president “Toilet thought of the day,” a heading he used for other Facebook rants as well.
“As someone whose wife works in the hospital I hope you burn in hell along with your d—–bag f—–g reality tv star,” Trask wrote in the post. “His ego is going to kill a lot of people and anyone who supports that is a dumb–s. This is what you get when you elect an egotistical/narcissistic maniac to the top office. He needs people to be nice to him or he won’t help. F–k you, do–he.”
The tirade accompanied a link to a WWJ Newsradio story headlined “After Trump Attacks Whitmer, She Says Vendors Aren’t Sending Desperately Needed Coronavirus Supplies.”
Michael Zweiback, a former assistant U.S. attorney in California now practicing privately, told Target 8 Trask’s post would have caused him concern.
“I’m always worried about the optics because sometimes the optics can mean that there’s more going on here,” explained Zweiback in a Zoom interview with Target 8. “Then it becomes my responsibility as the federal prosecutor to investigate, to make sure that, ‘is this someone with just a big mouth, or is this someone who’s doing more than just spouting off on social media.’”
Zweiback said the Facebook post calls into question not only the judgment of the FBI agent, but also that of the entire FBI team on the case.
“You always have the best and brightest doing those types of cases, and so it puts a real question mark as to what was going on with the people who were supervising the investigation, number one at the highest levels, and then down the line,” Zweiback said. “What do we know about this agent? Were there other issues of misconduct that may have been in his background?”
The FBI, which fired Richard Trask in September 2021, declined comment for this report.
While some experts believe Trask’s Facebook post was ill-advised given his position, they told Target 8 it did not violate the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts civil service employees from actively managing or participating in partisan political campaigns.
According to Michael Hills, a lawyer for one of the defendants in the alleged kidnap plot case, federal prosecutor Nils Kessler notified him of Trask’s Facebook post.
“Trask, as you know, signed off on the (criminal) complaint (and) testified in the preliminary examination in this case,” said Hills, according to a transcript of a September 2021 motion hearing.
“(Trask) was on multiple affidavits for search warrants, involved in interviews, and he, as this court knows….. was charged in state court with assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder for his attack on his wife. Then, this week I get an email from… Mr. Kessler showing special agent Trask’s Facebook post, and he is —- I’ll spare the quotes, but he is using a lot of profanity and basically ranting,” reported Hills to the judge.
Target 8 questioned Trask about his Facebook posts as he left the Kalamazoo County Courthouse on Aug. 4 after an appearance related to his felony assault case.
Trask ignored reporters’ questions, walking straight to his vehicle and driving away.
His defense attorney, Sarissa Montague, made a statement to reporters outside the courthouse.
“Richard Trask is an honorable man who has served this community for many many years. He has spent his entire career protecting and serving this nation,” said Montague. “He loves his family. He loves his job, and he loves this country… This is a very very difficult time for him and for his family, and we are asking that while this case is pending, you give him privacy and you give his family privacy.”
Police body camera video, obtained by Target 8 through the Freedom of Information Act, documented Richard Trask’s arrest in the early morning hours of July 18, 2021.
Trask’s wife had called 911 around 2 a.m.
When deputies from the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department arrived at Trask’s Oshtemo Township home, the agent’s wife explained the couple had returned home from a swinger’s party she had not wanted to attend.
She told deputies she’d reluctantly agreed to check out the gathering because it was “date night.”
Trask’s wife said the couple argued upon their return home, and Trask grabbed her head and smashed it “multiple times” against a piece of furniture in the bedroom.
She said he then began choking her to the point where she thought she might lose consciousness.
But Trask’s wife told deputies she managed to break free by grabbing his beard and testicles, at which point she said her husband left the home in her vehicle.
“She’s got a pretty good laceration on the side of her head,” reported one of the responding deputies. “She’s got strangulation marks around her neck.”
There were two children in the home at the time of the alleged assault, a small child the couple shared and the domestic abuse survivor’s pre-teen son.
A colleague of Trask’s wife came and retrieved the children for the night.
At one point, Kalamazoo County Deputy Paul Kidd sought to reassure Trask’s wife, after she stated repeatedly that she was embarrassed.
“You are incredibly strong for the injuries you have,” said Kidd. “I can tell you’ve got a lot of will. Don’t be embarrassed. You’re handling this a lot better than a lot of people that we go to. You’re holding it in really well. You’re very composed. I know you’re in a lot of pain.”
Once in the ambulance, a medic noted Trask’s wife was “still bleeding pretty good out of her head.”
Meanwhile, deputies began trying to locate Trask, not knowing if the special agent was armed.
“Counter-terrorism. Yeah, he could be hiding anywhere,” commented one deputy.
Early on, one of the responding officers instructed another, “Do not turn your volume off. Keep it on the whole time,” referring to the deputy’s body-worn camera.
Trask’s wife said while they’d both been drinking, only her husband was intoxicated.
“She doesn’t know what he’s doing,” reported a deputy. “She’s texting him, but his location is off. He’s getting to that erratic state.”
Kidd called Trask’s cell phone multiple times.
“Hey Richard, it’s Deputy Kidd, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department. Just trying talk to you,” he said, leaving a message on Trask’s cell phone.
“Looks like you had an incident at your house tonight. Trying to get your side of the story,” Kidd said.
Two hours after deputies arrive at Trask’s home, someone spotted his wife’s vehicle in a shopping center parking lot.
A deputy tapped on the back passenger side window with his flashlight, slowly moving toward the driver’s side door.
A disheveled Richard Trask emerged slowly from the driver’s seat, wearing only shorts.
He had blood on his face, which appeared to be his wife’s.
“What is going on?” questioned a bleary-eyed Trask.
“What is going on?” he repeated, as a deputy turned him around and cuffed him.
“You got any weapons on you?” asked the deputy.
“No,” responded Trask.
“Where are your guns at?” questioned the deputy.
“At the house,” responded Trask.
The deputy read the FBI special agent his Miranda rights, and Trask declined to make a statement.
With Trask secured in the back of the squad car, the sheriff’s deputy informed him of the reason for his arrest.
“You’re being arrested for domestic violence. Aggravated domestic violence causing strangulation,” said the deputy.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting ultimately charged Trask with felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.
If convicted, it’s punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Trask is scheduled for a plea hearing in the assault case in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court on Monday.
The defendants charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer are scheduled for federal trial in March.
Trask will not be testifying in the federal kidnapping case.