One of the lead FBI agents who helped foil a plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was fired this week, the latest twist for a team seemingly mired in impropriety.
Special Agent Richard Trask, the case’s public face who has testified in five conspirators’ cases, was fired two months after he allegedly beat his wife, The Detroit News reported Saturday.
Trask is the latest law enforcement official in the case to face scrutiny since the kidnapping plot became public last year. State and federal officials charged 14 men with far-right ties in the plot to kidnap Whitmer. One has since pleaded guilty.
Trask was charged in July with assault with intent to do great bodily harm after an alleged altercation with his wife. According to police, he and his wife had drinks at a swinger’s party in Kalamazoo County. Trask’s wife later said she didn’t enjoy the party, which led to an argument about it on their way home, according to The Detroit News.
The verbal argument later turned physical as Trask allegedly climbed on top of her in bed and repeatedly bashed her head into a nightstand, according to The Detroit News. She then reached for his beard to subdue him, but police said Trask grabbed her throat with both hands and proceeded to choke her. Trask stopped after she grabbed him by the testicles, the outlet reported. He then left their home.
The FBI confirmed to the paper that Trask was no longer with the bureau but did not say why he was fired. It came a week after prosecutors elected not to use Trask’s testimony in one conspirator’s trial after social media posts revealed Trask called former President Donald Trump a “douchebag f*cking reality tv star.”
His firing comes as other law enforcement officials involved in the case have been embroiled in controversy in the last year, including leaks about the investigation and unethical actions in past cases.
A BuzzFeed News article last month revealed a Twitter account that appeared to tease the investigation months before it was publicly reported. Its bio indicated it was run by the CEO of a cyber intelligence company called Exeintel—a firm owned by FBI Special Agent Jayson Chambers, one of the agents on the case, government records showed.
Chambers and the FBI declined to comment on the matter to BuzzFeed, but five defendants who have accused the government of entrapment asked a federal judge last week to subpoena Twitter over the account.
In May, state prosecutor Greg Townsend was reassigned from the case after the Michigan Attorney General’s office indicated potential ethics concerns in a murder and arson case he prosecuted in 2000. A spokesperson for the state attorney general told the Detroit Free Press that Townsend “was reassigned from his docket while the Department of Attorney General performs a comprehensive audit of his work.”
The trials for the five defendants charged with federal crimes will begin on Oct. 12, though their lawyers have asked for a 90-day delay to further investigate the FBI agents involved in the case.