A viral video appears to show one of the six suspects arrested and charged with attempting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday criticizing President Trump.
In one of several videos that conservative music producer Robby Starbuck located on YouTube and posted to Twitter, suspect and alleged militia member Brandon Caserta seems to be speaking negatively about the president.
“Trump is not your friend, dude,” Caserta appears to say in the video. “And it amazes me that people actually believe that, when he’s shown over and over and over again that he’s a tyrant.”
The video was released on Thursday, when Whitmer hosted a press conference explaining the kidnapping scheme. She brought up the president’s Sept. 29 comment that the far-right Proud Boys group should “stand back and stand by,” implying that Trump’s words may have stirred radicals like those who plotted against her.
“Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups,” Whitmer said. “‘Stand back and stand by,’ he told them. … Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry, as a call to action.”
She added that when “leaders meet with, encourage and fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit.”
Trump responded to her comments in a series of Friday tweets, saying, “I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”
In other videos apparently showing Caserta speaking before anarchist flags, the kidnapping suspect lectures his audience about the dangers of law enforcement and government.
“These order-followers are not here to protect you at all, and I really, really, really want to get you to understand that because you are not going to achieve freedom by continuing to support these people under the erroneous belief that they’re here to protect you.”
Another video appears to show him calling the Declaration of Independence “an anarchist document,” adding that “anarchy does not mean chaos.”
In another video, a voice seemingly from Caserta can be heard saying that those who participate in government are actually “participating in slavery…for everyone else,” and voting is the same as “admitting that you believe in the legitimacy of authority, which means you believe in the legitimacy of slavery.”
The digital media company Daily Dot also uncovered videos and photos it says are from Caserta on Facebook and TikTok. In them, he praises Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding another amid civil unrest in Kenosha, Wis., in late August.
Some of the posts he allegedly shared on Facebook obtained by the Daily Dot display anti-mask rhetoric and coronavirus conspiracy theories.
On top of the six men arrested and charged with attempting to kidnap Whitmer – Caserta, Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks and Daniel Harris – the FBI also arrested and charged seven other men for state terrorism threats targeting law enforcement officers.
The six alleged militia members who plotted Whitmer’s kidnapping held meetings and discussions on Facebook that a wired, undercover FBI informant was able to document since early in 2020, according to officials.
The men could face life sentences in prison if convincted.