President Donald Trump’s relentless criticism of government intelligence agencies is apparently being used by some of his supporters to defend themselves in court.
Three anti-Muslim militia members are on trial for plotting to slaughter Somali refugees in southwest Kansas. The FBI arrested the men prior to the 2016 election and now their attorneys are trying to turn the table on the agency.
The attorneys are claiming their clients are being wrongfully targeted by the FBI because of their conservative ideology and biased political beliefs.
Such bizarre allegations have its root in Trump’s tweets in which he keeps blasting the FBI.
Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright are accused of plotting to massacre Muslims in Kansas. Prosecutors said the three men, all members of a militia group called the Crusaders, had planned to bomb a Garden City apartment complex that housed Somali refugees, whom the men referred to as “cockroaches.”
Moreover, the suspected terrorists didn’t want to hurt Trump’s chances of victory, hence the trio planned the alleged attack a day after the 2016 presidential election.
Fortunately, their plan was obstructed by FBI informant Dan Day, who managed to gather evidence against the three. He had also recently testified in court and recounted an incident where he was prepared to kill one the militiamen to stop him from killing Muslims.
Moreover, he also secretly recorded a conversation that took place between the suspects, where they were unabashedly discussing killing Muslims.
“The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. If you’re a Muslim, I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head,” Stein could be heard saying in the taped conversation.
Days also recounted another incident where he and Stein were driving by the Somali apartment complex and Stein got enraged by the number of Somalis there.
“Muslims are like cockroaches,” Stein reportedly told him. “You can’t kill one of them. You have to kill all of them. They keep coming back. You have to exterminate them all.”
In wake of such grave accusations along with the evidence that Day managed to collect when he infiltrated the Kansas militia group, defense attorneys for the trio are opting for an easy way out: They are trying to put the FBI on trial for supposedly creating a conspiracy theory.
The fact that POTUS doesn’t hesitate from discrediting the law enforcement agency is all the encouragement the attorneys needed to start this blame game.
Although there is nothing wrong with putting up a healthy argument in front of law enforcement agencies, it’s pretty evident in this case that the attorneys are trying to capitalize on the president’s blatant criticism of the FBI.
Also, this is happening as the president is reportedly trying to neuter a special counsel probe into his alleged ties to Russia that’s already resulted in multiple charges and guilty pleas from a variety of his associates.
Advocates of the FBI have been wary about the effect of Trump’s frequent attacks on agency.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder warned the “long-term negative collateral consequences are substantial” and worried that Trump’s attacks on the FBI will sow doubts among jurors. Thomas O’Connor, the president of the FBI Agents Association, said such attacks “clearly trickle down to the person, the agent, the analyst, the FBI employee on the street, in the field offices.”
Repercussions of Trump’s tweets have started to emerge as jurors are more skeptical about honesty and corruption at the top levels of the FBI.
Several jurors have expressed concerns about the credibility of the agency. One of them said he thinks many Americans are concerned about the decisions being made at the top of the FBI. Meanwhile, another potential juror said he’d grown up wanting to be an FBI agent, but now believes top bureau officials have engaged in wrongdoing.
In most criminal trials, prosecutors look forward to having conservatives on a jury, since they are usually strong supporters of law enforcement, but now, with less than one-third of Trump voters saying they have even a “fair amount” of trust in the FBI, conservative jurors and their ideology can no longer be predicted or relied upon — especially in a case that involves Islam, guns and immigration.
Stein, Allen and Wright have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Federal public defender Richard Federico, who is defending the trio in the court, insisted that his clients are victims of a government conspiracy and the FBI is wrongfully singling them out.
Federico had also shrugged off the accusations against his clients by claiming that such talk of slaughtering Muslims was a mere “locker-room talk.”
Banner Image: REUTERS/David Becker