DAILY SIGNAL: Spotlight on FBI: Understanding the Trump Raid, Jan. 6, and Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

You’ve seen the headlines: President Joe Biden and his Justice Department are weaponizing law enforcement to target the left’s political opponents. It’s happening with the prosecutions of Jan. 6 protesters, the relentless attacks on Trump administration officials, and former President Donald Trump himself.

The raid on Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, was among the most blatant efforts yet by Biden’s Justice Department to punish and intimidate his political opponents—and the man who could challenge him for reelection in 2024.

There are few people more knowledgeable about the government’s recent actions than Julie Kelly, whose fearless reporting helps shine the light on what’s really happening. Her book “January 6: How Democrats Used the Capitol Protest to Launch a War on Terror Against the Political Right” tells the story you didn’t hear from the Jan. 6 committee.

Kelly joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to provide an update on the FBI raid, the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot, Rep. Liz Cheney’s resounding defeat, and Jan. 6 defendants.

Rob Bluey: You recently wrote a piece for American Greatness titled “It’s Inevitable: Trump Will be Indicted.” Obviously, this is a huge story. It’s on the minds of a lot of people. Tell us why you came to that opinion.

Julie Kelly: I’ve been covering this Jan. 6 prosecution—I call it persecution—for the past 19 months. I’ve read thousands of court documents from this [Department of Justice]. I’ve listened to probably hundreds of hours of court hearings. And I can tell you, as an observer, how shocked and horrified I have been listening to what’s happening in these D.C. courtrooms related to this prosecution.

You have judges of both political parties who consider even low-level trespassers from Jan. 6 domestic terrorists. They berate these protesters, many of whom committed no violent offense, aren’t even charged with a violent offense. Nonetheless, sentencing them to 30, 60, 90 days in jail for the low-level petty offense of parading at the Capitol.

You have judges, including the chief judge, which I speak about in my piece, Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, who just recently, once again, excoriated a defendant and accused him of listening to a political figure to commit a criminal act. Of course, that political figure is Donald Trump.

So this DOJ has made it very clear that they are building a criminal case against Donald Trump. And if he is indicted, which I believe that he will be, he will be going into this highly partisan, rabid D.C. court system, who will really let the government do whatever they want related to any indictment. And Donald Trump will have a very tough time dealing with any of these judges and certainly a jury.

Bluey: You mentioned some of the reasons for that in your piece. Many of these judges, obviously, appointed by Democrat presidents. But also 4% or 5% of voters in D.C. supported Trump’s candidacy. So the overwhelming number of people who would be called for a grand jury are most likely Trump critics or outright Trump opponents.

Kelly: That’s exactly right.

I mean, you have D.C. grand juries who had issued hundreds of criminal indictments and ridiculous charges, such as obstruction of an official proceeding. More than 250 people charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, which is post-Enron law. It is supposed to deal with tampering with evidence, not disrupting any sort of meeting by a legislature. So they’re criminalizing political activity.

Also, you have D.C. grand jury that have handed down 16 counts of seditious conspiracy.

This is a charge so rare, no American has ever been convicted of it. And here we have a grand jury that’s handed down that charge against 16 protesters that day, including mostly protesters who, again, committed no violent crime. These are men associated with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

So this is how unhinged even the D.C. grand juries are. Which is, of course, the body that will hand out any criminal indictment, felony indictment against Donald Trump.

The regular juries are no better. We’ve had seven jury trials so far. D.C. juries have returned unanimous guilty verdicts on every single count, in record time. You haven’t had a single acquittal on one count, again, including defendants charged with obstruction of an official proceeding.

So after observing this, seeing what’s happening, you’re right. You’re talking about a city made up of residents, 5% who voted for Donald Trump in 2020, 4% in 2016. And almost everyone somehow tied to the federal government.

Bluey: Julie, what do you make of their motives here? Why are they so rabidly pursuing these prosecutions, or as you say, persecutions? And why do you believe that Trump is next and will be in their crosshairs?

Kelly: This is simply an extension of Crossfire Hurricane, the counterintelligence probe that Barack Obama’s DOJ and FBI opened up against the Donald Trump presidential campaign in July of 2016.

For more than six years, these rabid partisans—and let’s keep in mind, the DOJ, much of the Biden regime includes longtime Obama loyalists.

For example, Lisa Monaco is the deputy attorney general. She really runs the show and she’s handling the day-to-day details of the Jan. 6 prosecution. She was a longtime Obama loyalist.

She was chief of staff to Robert Mueller when he was the FBI director. But more importantly, she was Obama’s last homeland security adviser. She was in the Obama White House until the very final hours.

She was a Russia collusion architect. She was the one who directed, on behalf of the president, the intelligence community to come up with John Brennan’s bogus report claiming that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump.

She is the one running the show.

So, for six years, you have people like Lisa Monaco and other Obama loyalists who have been trying to get Donald Trump in handcuffs, and this is their final chance to do it, to deliver on their promise to their base that they’re going to charge Donald Trump and he’s going to end up in jail.

The problem for the Democrats, as I write in my piece, they have backed themselves into a corner.

House Democrats, the Jan. 6 committee, [Attorney General] Merrick Garland, and the media working on behalf of the Democrats have ratcheted this up so far that if they don’t indict Donald Trump, the Democrats will pay a political price.

These Democratic voters want Democrats to finally deliver on putting Donald Trump in handcuffs. It’s really twisted, but that’s the political climate that we’re in right now.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, alongside Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco and FBI Director Christopher Wray, at the Justice Department on April 6, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Bluey: Now, it seems though, politically, that may be the direction that the Democrat and far-left base wants to go, but it seems that other Americans are soundly rejecting what they’re trying to do. There’s deep dissatisfaction with DOJ and the FBI for their recent actions.

Let me ask you about Rep. Liz Cheney, who was resoundingly defeated in her Republican primary election. I mean, she, more than any other Republican in Washington, has devoted her time in Congress to attacking President Trump and being a prominent face of this Jan. 6 committee. So what are your takeaways from her defeat?

Kelly: I think she was defeated, and resoundingly so—by nearly 40 points—for a number of reasons. …

Apparently, she lives in Washington, D.C. She’s not really in Wyoming. I’m sure the voters there feel that she’s not there to represent them, but to represent herself and her family. And really, what has Liz Cheney done the past few years except doggedly go after Donald Trump?

Look, this is a personal family grudge between these two political “dynasties.” When Donald Trump took a debate stage in 2015, called the Iraq War, right directly to Jeb Bush’s face … one of the biggest mistakes in U.S. history, condemned Dick Cheney for repeatedly lying about weapons of mass destruction, he’s launched a war with both families—Cheney and Bush.

So we see her now, amazingly, restoring the Cheney name in the news media.

As you know, these are the same people who wanted her father strung up at The Hague on war crimes 10 years ago. Now she’s a martyr and a hero. Because this was just a personal grudge for her. She’s not appealing. She’s not working on behalf of her constituents. … I don’t even know what other accomplishments she has in Congress. So it was a resounding defeat.

It looks like now she’s threatening to run for president. That will be entertaining.

But it’s also a defeat for the old guard of the Republican Party, the neocons—of which I used to consider myself one—neocons who seem more occupied with what’s happening around the world than protecting Americans here and building our country instead of building “democracies” across the world. Which, as we also know, didn’t work.

Bluey: And she has Democrats in Washington cheerleading for her and, as you indicated, the legacy news media, which is just remarkable, considering how they viewed her father when he was in office.

I want to turn now to the FBI because there’s so much to cover and unpack. You have done some phenomenal reporting. I encourage people to follow you on Twitter and your work at American Greatness and other places where you’re contributing because there is just so much happening, it’s hard to even know where to begin.

But I want to start with the coverage of the FBI’s involvement in the Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot. She, of course, is the governor of Michigan who in October of 2020 revealed that several men were planning to kidnap and kill her. We’ve learned a lot since that time. Bring us up to speed on what’s happening with this trial.

Kelly: It is crazy. As you know, Jan. 6 is my beat, right? But I call the Whitmer fed-napping case my “General Hospital.” I mean … the best soap opera writer, drama, TV fiction writer in the world could not come up with this script.

You have what it turns out, not white supremacist, militia men taking orders from Donald Trump to attempt to kidnap and kill one of his biggest political rivals in Gretchen Whitmer. You have an FBI entrapment scheme from start to finish.

At least a dozen FBI undercover agents and informants working out of multiple field offices with approval from the highest level at DOJ and FBI. You had the use of drones, of airplanes.

You had these informants dragging these targets from state to state, organizing field training exercises so they could record those as evidence. You have informants taking their targets up to Gretchen Whitmer’s cottage to do “surveillance,” which was also used as evidence.

The whole time they’re getting their targets stoned, they’re getting them drunk. And they’re recording all of it so the government can use it as evidence.

But it turns out these informants are real lowlifes. One of them is a longtime informant who’s a convicted felon several times over, including convictions with sex with a minor. He’s working out of numerous FBI field offices, and committed at least two other crimes while working the Whitmer fed-napping hoax.

And the key informant, Dan Chappel—who I wrote about and I know Tucker Carlson talked about in his show—he was paid in cash and prizes roughly $60,000 by the FBI for seven months’ work, which is more than he made in a year as a truck driver for the Postal Service.

… The FBI paid for a $4,000 laptop. They bought new tires for his car. They bought him a smartwatch. When he sold his house, they paid for the loss on his home. And in December of 2020, two months after the arrests were made, the operation was basically over, and of course, all the damage to Trump was already done, the FBI handed Dan Chappel an envelope of cash with $23,540 in it for job well done.

This is just scratching the surface.

So I’m tweeting—the second trial is going on right now. Two men were acquitted amid a defense of FBI entrapment. They were acquitted in April. A hung jury on two more men. The government unwisely decided to try the remaining two defendants, coinciding at a time when DOJ and FBI’s credibility is totally imploding. I feel very strongly these men will be acquitted, if not another hung jury.

But it is exposing the moral rot of the FBI. And this is something that Republicans are going to have to deal with if they take over the House in November.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a rally on Oct. 25, 2020 in Detroit. (Photo: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Bluey: And let’s talk about that for a moment because for many of our listeners, and probably for Americans more broadly, you would not expect this to be happening in our country.

These are the types of things that you would expect to happen in foreign lands, where we often think, “Wow, that would just not be something that would take place in the United States.” And here, it seems to be from the top down of this Biden administration, a willingness to engage in this type of behavior.

What are the things that Republicans need to do should they reclaim control of the House after November’s election?

Kelly: The No. 1 thing is they need to hold a series of public hearings so the American people can hear exactly what this FBI has been doing, not just related to the raid on Mar-a-Lago, which, of course, was unprecedented and outrageous. I have heard so many horror stories from Americans who have had their homes raided, pre-dawn raids.

Dozens of FBI agents using battering rams, military-style vehicles to invade their homes in front of their young children, even confiscate the cellphones of children. Pointing rifles at elderly women standing there in their nightgowns as they are under arrest for Jan. 6 offenses.

This has been going on since January of 2021. These people have horrific stories of how this agency is traumatizing Trump supporters, hauling them off to jail. In some cases, I mean, we still have political prisoners, as I call them, who’ve been in jail now for a year and a half awaiting trials that the same DOJ continues to delay.

So the American people need to hear what this FBI is doing. This is not just a problem on the seventh floor of the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. This infects every FBI field office, every one of the 56 field offices, as we see in the Whitmer kidnapping hoax that came out of the Michigan field office.

And here’s a mindblower. … The special agent in charge of the Michigan FBI field office, in October of 2020, after the arrests were announced, was promoted by [FBI Director] Christopher Wray to take over the plum assignment of head of the D.C. FBI field office.

This was a few months before Jan. 6. There were a lot of similarities between the Whitmer fed-napping hoax and Jan. 6, including plans to storm the Lansing Capitol.

And he would be the guy who would be in charge of undercover agents and informants run out of that office on Jan. 6. He’s also the lead on the criminal investigation.

Steven D’Antuono needs to answer a lot of questions. If I was in charge of the Republican House, he would be my first witness to subpoena. Explain himself in the Whitmer case and explain any informants and undercover agents involved in Jan. 6, which we know that there were. And his abusive use of the FBI, not just in the Mar-a-Lago raid, but in these raids across the country.

Bluey: Up to this point, has he said anything? Do we know any reason why he was doing the things that he was doing there in Michigan and his motives now in the D.C. field office?

Kelly: No, he has not been questioned by Congress. I’m sure this Democrat Congress wants to ignore him completely, for good reason.

And I also direct people to Darren Beattie’s reporting at revolver.news, who’s done extensive detailed investigative reporting on the alleged pipe bombers.

Steven D’Antuono is the one who talked about the pipe bombers, offered this $100,000 reward to find the alleged pipe bomber, but there’re all sorts of missing pieces about this alleged pipe bomber.

And Steven D’Antuono needs to answer questions about that, too. Why there’s missing video of the alleged bomber the night before. How the Secret Service missed the alleged explosive device sitting right outside [Democratic National Committee] headquarters when they took Kamala Harris there the morning of Jan. 6.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the alleged pipe bomber, which, as you know, set off the initial panic on Jan. 6 and just happened to be found by a woman who works for a government agency that had just received a $92 million grant by, guess who? The FBI.

So this just seems to be another one of those hoaxes tied to a government inside job, which I call Jan. 6. And Steven D’Antuono needs to answer questions about the pipe bomber. Why they haven’t identified or caught this alleged perpetrator, why there’s so many sketchy aspects about it. And certainly, most importantly, what he did to deploy his FBI agents using informants to entrap innocent men to damage Donald Trump before the 2020 election.

Bluey: Julie, there’s certainly a pattern here, as you talked about with the pipe bomb, with the Trump raid at Mar-a-Lago. It seems that despite the fact that we, the American people, are the ones paying for these government resources and the salaries of these FBI agents, they are withholding critical information from us, the American people, that we deserve to know.

Do you ever believe that we’ll be able to learn the truth? Even if Republicans are able to hold hearings, I’m personally skeptical that this deep state in Washington will be resistant, even if there’s a change of hands in Congress.

Kelly: Yes. I join you in that skepticism because here’s the thing. What happens when the Republicans—if they do. And I think there’s growing interest or growing acceptance of the idea that the federal agencies who targeted Donald Trump his entire presidency also orchestrated most of the events of Jan. 6.

What will Republicans do when they find out how deeply involved the FBI was? Deploying informants into the same sort of militia groups months before Jan. 6, helping them to direct their targets—just like they did in the Whitmer fed-napping hoax—surveilling them.

And of course, we know that there were hundreds of elite FBI agents, including the Hostage Rescue Team—which was also the group that arrested the Whitmer alleged kidnappers in October—Hostage Rescue Team, elite commando squads at Quantico the weekend before the Capitol protest.

Now, what exactly were those FBI agents doing? Furthermore, doesn’t that sort of contradict the narrative the American people have been told? That the FBI, law enforcement, everyone was caught off guard that day. That Donald Trump riled all these people up at his speech and he ordered his “armed mob” to storm the Capitol, and nobody knew what was coming.

Well, if that’s the case, then why were there hundreds of elite FBI agents at Quantico the weekend before? What did they do on Jan. 6? Why weren’t they there to protect the Capitol and work with local law enforcement partners to secure, not just the Capitol building, but the entire city?

So what happens when Republicans finally confront the realities of Jan. 6? They’ll have to do something. They’ll have to do something drastic, like completely dismantle the FBI, cut off major sources of funding to the Justice Department. Do they have the guts to do that? I don’t think this leadership crowd does, whatsoever.

Bluey: The American people are certainly going to demand that something happens. The growing frustration with what’s taking place and the fact that they’re unafraid to go after somebody as prominent and important as former President Trump signifies that they could come for anybody. And with recent news that the IRS is adding 87,000 new agents, there’s many reasons to be concerned. Republicans will be expected to push back on this administration’s agenda.

I want to go back to where we started. In your book “January 6: How Democrats Used the Capitol Protest to Launch a War on Terror Against the Political Right,” you have done more perhaps than anybody else in terms of telling the stories of the individuals who are being prosecuted. You’ve shared with us the ways that the system is stacked against them in D.C.

I want you to begin by telling us the story of Paul Hodgkins and how he’s personally suffered, a little bit about who he is, and some of the things that you’re doing to try to share his story with the broader public.

Kelly: Paul Hodgkins lives in a lower-class area of Tampa. A Trump supporter. He was working as a mechanic on heavy industrial vehicles.

He took a bus, alone, on Jan. 5 to go to the Capitol, to see the president on Jan. 6. He went to the president’s speech. He walked to the Capitol, again, traveling alone. There, of course, were Trump supporters. A lot of them there.

He entered the Capitol building. He went to the Senate chambers. He was there at the same time as Jacob Chansley, the QAnon shaman.

Paul Hodgkins had a Trump flag. He waved his flag in the Senate chambers after it had been evacuated, and he left. He didn’t bring a weapon. He didn’t assault anyone. Didn’t vandalize any property. As far as he knew, he was being allowed into the building.

Again, people who’ve never been in the Capitol—and you know this—it’s a huge building. How these people found the Senate chambers, would love to see that on the surveillance video we’ll never see.

But anyway, nonetheless, he was arrested. Charged with the obstruction of an official proceeding felony and other low-level misdemeanor offenses. His attorney, who did not do a good job, encouraged him to plead guilty to the obstruction charge. He was the second person to plead guilty to obstruction, but the first one to be sentenced publicly.

And in his sentencing hearing before Judge Randolph Moss, another Obama appointee, Paul Hodgkins begged for mercy. He lives alone. If he would go to prison for any extended amount of time, he would lose his job. He had an apprenticeship, apparently, to better his employment. He was renting part of a house, he was going to lose that. He was going to lose his pets.

Begged for mercy. Of course, got none. Was sentenced to eight months in prison for obstruction of an official proceeding, a nonviolent crime never intended to be used this way. This is an Andrew Weissmann, Robert Mueller specialty. And this poor guy spent eight months in jail, then a halfway house, and now he’s on probation for two years.

This is what these people are enduring. Paul is just one of many stories. But when I listened to his sentencing hearing in July of 2021 … I broke down. I mean, I felt so horrible for this man. I was so enraged at the prosecutors and the judges and this judge.

But it really made me realize what this government was going to do to Trump supporters. Absolutely no mercy. And they are sickeningly gratified by inflicting pain on Trump supporters.

There’s no reason for someone like Paul Hodgkins to go to jail for eight months. The same DOJ is letting off 2020 rioters. That entire whole summer of violence, rioting, death, and destruction has been memory-holed by this DOJ. Yet they’re throwing people like Paul Hodgkins in prison for eight months.

Jacob Chansley, the QAnon shaman, after 317 days in solitary confinement, this DOJ tortured a plea deal out of him. He will spend 41 months in prison on the same obstruction charge. This is what not just Trump-supporting Americans are dealing with in this D.C. court, but this is what Donald Trump will be up against once they indict him.

Bluey: Julie, you’ve made the decision to donate a portion of your book proceeds to the Patriot Freedom Project. Tell us about that organization and other ways that Americans who are frustrated can take action and do something.

Kelly: Thank you so much for bringing that up. So this is a fund—there was no funding available. There were no lawyers available for these Jan. 6 defendants. There’s a huge vacuum on the right, as I’m sure you know, of legal organizations who will step up and help Americans who are being persecuted by this government for their political activities and views.

So Cynthia Hughes, who is the adoptive aunt of one of the political prisoners, Tim Hale, she really started this fund. And not only is she helping to pay for criminal defense lawyers for some of the defendants, more importantly, she’s helping families who are being completely bankrupted and destroyed.

Even people who are arrested on misdemeanor charges, they were immediately fired. Think about that. People who were accused of committing misdemeanors lost their job simply because it was related to Jan. 6.

So she is helping these families who desperately need it to pay for school supplies, to help pay for rent once in a while, utility bills, just the basics. These people are barely getting by. So that’s at patriotfreedomproject.com.

I have contributed proceeds of my book. I’ve directed other donors there. Dinesh D’Souza and his wife donated $100,000. So when people are looking for some way to help, I would direct them to patriotfreedomproject.com.

Bluey: And Julie, tell our listeners how they can follow your work, get the book, and keep tabs on all of the great reporting that you’re doing.

Kelly: All my work can be found at amgreatness.com. I’m covering the Whitmer trial as much as I can in real time on Twitter, @julie_kelly2. And my book can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Bluey: Julie Kelly, thank you so much again for the work you’re doing. And thank you for telling the story that so many legacy media outlets refuse to share and the stories of the people who are facing the prosecution for their protest on Jan. 6. It’s truly sad to hear about them, but we are hopeful and thankful to people like you for helping us shine the light on what’s happening.

Kelly: I am so grateful for you, Rob, for covering my work. I really appreciate it because I know you’re getting this out to a totally different audience. And so I’m very grateful. Thank you.

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