Eric Molitor, one of the three men accused of assisting in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, testified in his own defense on Thursday. Molitor portrayed himself as a frightened participant who was unaware of the target when he joined a daytime ride to see Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. He, along with twin brothers William Null and Michael Null, is facing charges of providing material support for terrorist acts.
During his testimony, Molitor claimed that Whitmer’s name did not come up when the scheme’s leader, Adam Fox, encouraged him to visit a “high-profile vacation house” in Antrim County in August 2020. However, Molitor became anxious when he discovered that it was the governor’s lakeside house in Elk Rapids. He recounted being in a pickup truck with Fox and an FBI informant as they drove by the property twice, expressing his concerns about the situation and his lack of training or support.
Molitor’s decision to testify is uncommon, as only one other defendant has taken the witness stand in the four trials held so far in state and federal courts, resulting in an acquittal. Molitor and the Null brothers are accused of aiding plot leaders Fox and Barry Croft Jr. Social media posts and text messages revealed their outrage over COVID-19 restrictions, but evidence also indicated their pre-pandemic anti-government views and preparations for a civil war.
Molitor, 39, stated that his initial concern about the drive to Whitmer’s home diminished, and he did not contact the police. He described the situation as not serious, citing the disorganization of the two individuals involved. Molitor clarified that he did not have thoughts of hurting people but supported the idea of a civilian arrest if possible. He expressed his intention to vote Whitmer out as his preferred means of addressing his dissatisfaction with her policies.
The Null brothers were involved in a separate nighttime visit to Whitmer’s property a few days later. All three men participated in paramilitary training. Informants and undercover FBI agents were embedded within the group for months, gathering evidence and making recordings. Whitmer was not physically harmed during the plot.
Fourteen men were arrested a month before the November 2020 election, with nine being convicted in state or federal court and two acquitted. Following the foiled plot, Whitmer blamed then-President Donald Trump, accusing him of providing comfort to those who spread fear, hatred, and division. Trump dismissed the kidnapping plan as a “fake deal” in August 2022.