Donald Trump argued during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday that the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol and the alleged 2020 right-wing militia plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were both “ bogus’ government plans.
“The sting they did with Gretchen Whitmer was fake, and so were those who instigated January 6,” Trump said. “It was a fake deal, fake. It was a bogus deal.”
“Gretchen Whitmer was in less danger than the people sitting in this room right now it seems to me,” Trump added.
According to Michigan prosecutors, the conspirators tried to kidnap the Michigan governor and discussed locking her on a boat or killing her.
The four alleged conspirators temporarily escaped prosecution in April when two were acquitted and the remaining defendants were mistreated.
In June, a federal judge ordered a new trial for two of the alleged conspirators.
The government’s case against the alleged conspirators rested in part on the testimony of a federal whistleblower, and prominent conservatives and defense lawyers for the alleged militiamen argued that they were weekend warriors induced by the government into a conspiracy they were never serious about.
As of January 6, the former president and several other prominent Republican media and political figures claimed that an Arizona man named Ray Epps was a government informant who encouraged rioters to storm the Capitol.
Ryan Samsel, a Pennsylvania barber who was videotaped talking in whispers with Mr. Epps on Jan. 6, told the FBI that Epps had actually encouraged him not to to attack the police.
“He came up to me and said, ‘dude’ – all he said was, ‘Relax, the police are doing their job,'” Mr. Samsel said, according to a recording he received The New York Times.
Mr. Epps denied being a federal informant and cooperated with the January 6 commission.