FBI Special Agent Richard Trask was fired in early September while awaiting trial on domestic violence charges, according to The Detroit News. He was previously credited with thwarting the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The charges for assault with intent to do bodily harm stem from allegations that Trask beat his wife’s head against a nightstand following an argument that originated on the way home from a swingers party they attended.
His firing comes amid questions surrounding the FBI’s use of perhaps 12 informants, members of a supposed far-right militia group, Wolverine Watchmen, that appear to have driven the conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer.
He was dropped as a witness for the FBI following comments he made on social media calling former President Donald Trump a “douchebag” and a “piece of s—.” His arrest and subsequent firing came as defense lawyers representing the accused conspirators develop their legal strategy. They question the credibility and conduct of FBI agents involved in the case, including Trask, and plan to assert that they entrapped the defendants.
The trial will not be conducted until December at the earliest, and the defense team may still attempt to call Trask as a witness despite the FBI dismissing him for the prosecution, according to the outlet.
Trask, 39, was arrested on July 18th of this year on the aforementioned charges. The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said Trask’s wife had cuts to the right side of her head and “blood all over chest, clothing, arms and hand,” as well as “severe” bruising to her neck and throat. He has since pleaded not guilty to the charges. Trask was released on a $10,000 bail and is prohibited from carrying a firearm.
He and other prosecutors claimed in their affidavits that, through a militia group member who became an informant, federal agents became aware that the men were plotting the ‘violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components’ and taking ‘violent action’ against state governments that they believed were violating the United States Constitution, according to the Daily Mail.
The motivation of the conspirators – it is said – grew from Gov. Whitmer’s “uncontrolled power” amid the pandemic. Trask testified in federal court that “several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” the outlet wrote.
“The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread the message,” said Trask.
Fourteen men with alleged far-right ties have since been arrested in the plot. Five of the men face a range of charges including kidnapping and weapons of mass destruction conspiracies. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Another eight people have been charged in state court with crimes related to the kidnapping plot and threats to overthrow the government.
The defense claims they need time to probe the government’s use of at least a dozen confidential informants and undercover investigators, and have noted that trial preparation has been impeded by voluminous evidence – including two terabytes of information provided by the government in late August.
“The timing and organization of the discovery productions have created significant problems for the defense in preparing for the current trial date,” they wrote in a court filing obtained by The Detroit News last Wednesday.
Adding to the increasing lack of confidence in the bureau among Americans, prosecutors refused demands from counsel to produce material critical to the defense that could show that the feds used entrapment methods to aid in the plot. In August, attorney Michael Hills, who represents one of the 14 men who have been indicted in the scheme requested that a federal judge order the government to turn over all communications – including text messages – between his client Brandon Caserta of the Wolverine Watchmen group and a paid FBI informant named “Dan” who was being instructed to recruit members.
“These text messages indicate the FBI was pushing their paid agent to actively recruit people into an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy,” Hills wrote according to MLive.
If the defense is able to get its hands on the materials and show that the FBI and its paid informants were the generators of the Whitmer kidnapping plot, a significant blow would be dealt to a bureau that is already in dire need of a top-down restructuring.
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