Suspects in Michigan plot hid their cellphones in a box to be safe but failed to check one another for wires, FBI says

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. AP Photo / David Eggert
Members of a group charged with conspiracy to kidnap the Democratic government. Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer reportedly closed some security holes during their meetings.
An affidavit from an FBI special agent describes a meeting in which a man picked up the cell phones of everyone else and put them in a box "to prevent any surveillance."
Unknown, the special agent said an FBI source attending the meeting was carrying a recording device.
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Several members of an armed group charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home failed to thoroughly examine each other for security breaches during a group meeting, according to an affidavit by an FBI special agent released Thursday .
Adam Fox, one of the six men charged in the conspiracy, is believed to have met with fellow accomplices in his Grand Rapids store on June 20. As a precaution, so the affidavit, Fox held the meeting in a basement, which was "access through a trap door hidden under a carpet."
Fox then collected the participants' cell phones in a box and put them upstairs "to prevent any surveillance," the affidavit said.
However, one of the participants was an FBI source wearing a recording device. The tone revealed the group discussing plans to attack the Michigan State Capitol and use Molotov cocktails against police vehicles, the affidavit said.
Special Agent Richard J. Trask II said the affidavit was based on information from two confidential sources and two undercover agents, but other sources were used during the investigation.
Six men were charged in connection with the kidnapping. The FBI said it became aware of the plans via social media channels sometime in early 2020. Seven other men were charged with terrorist crimes.
"Several members spoke of killing 'tyrants' or 'taking' a seated governor," Trask said in the affidavit. "The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to speak to their neighbors and get their message across."
Fox was quoted as saying that it would take "200 men" to attack and take hostages at the Lansing Capitol, including Whitmer.
"Grab it and grab it, man. Grab the f --- in 'Governor. Just take the b ----" Fox said during a July 27 meeting held by an informant under the affidavit Explanation was recorded. "Because we do that at this point, dude - it's over."
Whitmer has been criticized by conservative activists for the state's response to the coronavirus. In April, Whitmer extended a home stay order that placed restrictions on businesses deemed essential. The order was later overturned as part of the state's reopening plans.
During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Whitmer described the men as "sick and depraved".
"Hate, bigotry and violence have no place in the great state of Michigan," she said.
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