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Testimony ends in key hearing for 3 tied to Whitmer plot

·2-min read

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A war veteran who said he believes in small government explained Friday how he became an FBI informant in a federal investigation of an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The man, identified only as Dan, testified in a Jackson County court at a hearing to determine if three men will face trial. He said he learned about the Wolverine Watchmen by checking social media and was given access to an private online group by answering a few questions.

Dan said he was a firearms instructor who simply wanted to train but soon became “alarmed” by discussions about harming police. He said he reached out to a friend in law enforcement and subsequently agreed to assist the FBI.

Dan said he participated in armed protests at the state Capitol last year as well as rural training exercises. He said one of the men, Paul Bellar, wanted to “bum-rush the Capitol. ... I could tell the adrenaline was starting to flow.”

Dan noted that signs weren't allowed in the Capitol but guns were OK.

Bellar, Joe Morrison and Pete Musico are accused of aiding six other men who are charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Five more people are also charged in state courts. The FBI in October said it broke up a plot to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, by anti-government extremists upset over her coronavirus restrictions.

“He recruited, radicalized and acted as a facilitator for those plans,” FBI agent Henrik Impola testified Thursday, referring to Morrison.

Jackson County Judge Michael Klaeren must decide whether there's enough evidence to send the trio to trial. The legal threshold at this stage of the case isn't high.

After three days of testimony, the judge said he'll hear arguments on March 29 and make a decision.

Attorneys for the men said they didn't directly participate in a kidnapping plot and committed no violence at the Capitol.