A former friend of a young Bethesda man facing sentencing for having bomb-making chemicals said in court Friday that the man "intensely disliked" President Barack Obama and plotted to assassinate him.
Eighteen-year-old Patrick Yevsukov testified in U.S. District Court that McKenzie-Gude disliked then-presidential candidate Obama's views on firearms possession and was afraid of losing his guns if Obama was elected and enacted "sweeping" gun control laws.
Yevsukov says his former friend made a plan in 2008 to attack an Obama convoy near Camp David. He says McKenzie-Gude made a list of items he would need and attended an Obama rally in Washington to "test security."
Defense attorneys have said no such plot ever existed.
Yevsukov has pleaded guilty to possessing a destructive device. He faces sentencing in two weeks and was granted immunity for his testimony.
Yevsukov described how their friendship grew after they met as members of their high school's rifle team and ROTC.
Yevsukov said his father had a large collection of guns and he developed an interest in explosives from a young age. McKenzie-Gude often came over to his house, Yevsukov said. "We detonated pipe bombs together."
As Obama's candidacy became more promising, Yevsukov said, McKenzie-Gude became afraid that he would lose his guns if Obama were elected.
"Collin intensely disliked Barack Obama," he said.
He said McKenzie-Gude told him that high-profile candidates traveled in convoys, and McKenzie-Gude began planning to take out the convoy with explosive devices and guns. He said McKenzie-Gude's list of necessary supplies to carry out the attack included a long-range rifle and binoculars. He said McKenzie-Gude began asking more frequently about how to create explosive devices and obtained materials he needed.
"I felt there was more seriousness to this plan," he said.
Yevsukov said he was to act as the spotter in the plan, but once he saw his former friend was serious, he didn't want to take part.
He said McKenzie-Gude had attended an Obama rally at American University and wore a DEA lapel pin, and said he was surprised at how weak the security was. He said McKenzie-Gude sought a wooded area for the attack, and scoped out Camp David by driving around the area.
Authorities have said McKenzie-Gude had a map of Camp David with markings for the presidential motorcade.
Defense attorney Steven Kupferberg said McKenzie-Gude's parents were both "avid" Obama supporters and took their son to the rally at American University, where Sen. Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Richard Stryker testified that chemicals and other materials seized from McKenzie-Gude's home could have made 90 explosive devices that could have caused significant damage.
"We're not talking about fireworks here, your honor. These are very serious charges," Stryker said.
He also said the amount of chemicals found and other items such as switches indicate the materials were intended to make explosives.