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Barr calls alleged kidnapping plot 'abhorrent,' says he was briefed this week

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

U.S. Attorney General William Barr wasn't briefed on the alleged kidnapping of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer until this week, spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Friday after Michigan's attorney general questioned the extent of his knowledge this summer.

Kupec said it's not unusual for Barr to be briefed so close to the announcement of the charges. The U.S. attorney general stands by his statements from late July, when he said he was unaware of violent threats at Michigan protests suggesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should be lynched, the spokeswoman said. 

Attorney General William Barr

"He finds this behavior abhorrent and is totally supportive of the FBI’s investigation and the U.S. Attorney's actions," Kupec said. 

State and federal law enforcement arrested 13 individuals Wednesday night who they said plotted to storm the Capitol, kidnap officials including Whitmer, and incite civil war. 

An FBI affidavit alleges at least six of the individuals arrested had surveilled Whitmer's vacation home in northern Michigan, participated in training and even activated a trial improvised explosive devise.

The affidavit concerning the six individuals was unsealed Thursday morning in federal court. Later that day, Nessel announced state charges against seven others who she said were associated with the militia group Wolverine Watchmen and had plotted to storm the Capitol and kidnap politicians. 

The response by Barr, an appointee of Republican President Donald Trump, came after Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday questioned Barr's testimony in late July before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, when he said he wasn’t aware that protesters had made violent threats against the governor. 

“Yet, his own authorities were actively working to foil these types of plans and these threats,” Nessel told CNN New Day. “Either A) he didn’t know what was happening in his own Justice Department or B) he committed perjury.”

The Democratic attorney general also noted the investigation and arrests in the kidnapping plot were a good example of collaboration between a Democratic state attorney general and Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys. 

“There are those of us in law enforcement that are still willing to hold bad actors accountable,” she said.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com