BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | It’s probably been a line he frequently riffed on during his political-comedy routines over the years. Now, Randy Credico — who has found himself embroiled in Congress’s “Russiagate” probe — himself is taking the Fifth.
This Tuesday, Credico’s attorney Martin Stolar wrote to the House Committee on Intelligence, stating his client would “assert the protections of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution and decline to answer any questions beyond personal pedigree.”
The committee’s senior counsel promptly e-mailed Stolar back that since Credico would be pleading the Fifth, he didn’t need to appear in Washington this Friday, to give a deposition before the committee, as had been previously scheduled.
The next step, Stolar said, is for the committee either just to “drop it,” and not question Credico, or grant him immunity from self-incrimination and call him in.
Credico was recently outed by G.O.P. operative Roger Stone as the so-called “intermediary” between Stone and WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. During last year’s presidential campaign, Stone, claiming insider information, had hinted that John Podesta would be skewered by WikiLeaks, which did, in fact, go on to post the Hillary Clinton campaign chairperson’s e-mails for the world to see.
Stone had claimed he had a “back channel” connection to Assange. After going before the Intel Committee, Stone initially refused to name Credico, but subsequently, upon threat of subpoena, gave him up.
The committee then asked Credico to testify before them. He refused, and they subpoenaed him. To refuse a subpoena is contempt of Congress, which Stolar said is not something Credico wants to do.
Credico’s connection to both men is that they both were guests on his WBAI radio show. More recently, he visited Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in September and then again in November.
“I only met him eight weeks ago,” Credico recently told The Villager of Assange.
Stolar stressed he does not want Credico’s testimony to be used against him, or for his client somehow to wind up inadvertently perjuring himself.
“I don’t want to open him up to someone else saying, ‘That’s a lie,’ ” Stolar said, adding he would not expect Credico to put himself in a position to lie.
“He’s a political gadfly,” Stolar said of the stand-up comic, left-wing activist, fringe political candidate and, more recently, radio journalist.
“I’m sure Jeff Sessions has him on his radar,” Stolar added of the U.S. attorney general.
Specifically, he said, Credico’s association with Assange is the issue because the WikiLeaks founder is “radioactive.”
“Stone’s not under indictment himself,” Stolar explained. “Julian Assange is. He’s under indictment. They want him badly,” he said of the U.S. government. “Anyone who touches him is radioactive.”
Who knows? Things could come down to Assange challenging Credico’s credibility, Stolar noted.
Also, he added, “Trump and his attorney general are not particularly akin to the truth. They certainly make me paranoid — and they should make everyone paranoid, including my client.”
In addition, the attorney said, as far as the feds are concerned, Credico “could be considered some kind of accessory” to Assange’s actions.
Beyond that, even if Credico is granted immunity, there is the question of what he would actually agree to share.
“What they are interested in, presumably, are conversations he had that were not broadcast,” Stolar said of exchanges Credico and Assange may have had off microphone.
“I would like to think there’s privilege,” Stolar asserted, referring to a reporter’s right to shield his or her notes or conversations with sources and interview subjects.
“It’s called ‘use immunity,’” Stolar said. “This is Randy operating as a radio journalist here. They want him to testify under oath — and we’re not going to do that without a fight. … You choose not to publish something, it stays in your notebook or in your head,” he said, giving the example of a newspaper reporter.
More to the point, Stolar said, “I don’t know where this investigation is going. If they want to go ahead and indict Randy with something — go ahead, do it. But they’re not going to do it with his own work.
“Anyone could become a target,” the attorney added. “This committee has a very broad mandate to investigate a lot of things. I don’t know if they’re bullshitting or if they’re serious.”
Separately, former F.B.I Director Robert Mueller is also leading an investigation into alleged Russian intervention into the presidential election.
“He’s a fine, upstanding citizen,” Stolar asserted of Credico. “If Randy breaks the law, it’s because he chose to do some act of civil disobedience.”
Meanwhile, Credico, though he has been limiting his interviews lately, spoke to The Villager Tuesday evening after he had been sprung from jury duty in New York. He wasn’t put on a case. He was driving around Brooklyn in a car borrowed from a friend, and possibly headed out to Nathan’s for a hot dog or Junior’s for some cheesecake. A recovering substance abuser, he also noted at one point, that one thing he didn’t want to pick up was a beer.
“They’d never put me on a jury, not with my politics,” he claimed. “Unless there’s a video of someone killing his wife, I couldn’t put anyone in prison, particularly on a drug charge.”
As for going before the Intel Committee, he admitted that perjury was indeed a concern of his.
“Everyone says it’s about Roger Stone,” he said. “But I could go in there with my big mouth and easily get tripped. You see these people getting tripped on perjury. I’m an old man, I’m in my 60s,” he said, implying that he could have a mental lapse.
What he does not like, though, he said, are Internet “trolls” who are now going to say he has something to hide.
He said he followed the advice of Stolar, his pro-bono attorney, and a committee of a handful of other lawyers, who all advised him to take the Fifth.
Asked if he had planned to do any of his impressions before the committee, he said, yes — probably Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth!” speech from “A Few Good Men” or Jimmy Stewart’s famous one from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Credico stressed it’s untrue he wanted Donald Trump to win the election. He has repeatedly said he supported Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“There is no way I would facilitate Trump’s victory,” he declared. “All the shit that this guy has done, I would not facilitate this guy’s victory.”
Credico noted he was close with the late radical attorney Bill Kunstler, who defended the “Central Park Five” in the Central Park Jogger rape case in 1989. He lived in Kunstler’s Village home off and on for 20 years. Trump, of course, took out full-page ads in the city’s daily newspapers condemning the youths. Credico also recalled arriving in New York in 1980 and being outraged at Trump’s trying to move homeless people into one of his buildings on Central Park South to drive out rent-regulated tenants.
“I despise Trump more than anything,” Credico said.
But John Penley, a former East Village activist who has been following the story closely, said he doesn’t buy it.
“If Credico is so against Trump, Sessions and Company,” Penley said, “then why is he hanging out with Roger Stone and assisting Roger Stone in reaching Julian Assange, who has been assisting the Trump campaign to get Trump elected? Either he’s incredibly naive and stupid, or he wanted to help the Trump campaign.
“It’s possible,” Penley added with a chuckle, “that Credico and Stone were smoking some really good pot that Randy got him and his mind may have been clouded by the marijuana.”
Last week, The Villager reported that Stone — known as a big pot smoker — appeared with Credico at a comedy night at the Yippie Cafe on Bleecker St. in 2008, and a few days later tried to buy weed from the cafe’s Aron Kay. The “Yippie Pie Man” — who, in his heyday, pelted conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly and G. Gordon Liddy with creamy confections — nixed him, saying, “I don’t know you.”
Kay said he honestly thought it was dangerous to sell to someone he didn’t know.