When I spoke of a back channel to WikiLeaks in a rousing Tea Party rally in 2016 ,I was probably over dramatizing the role of progressive talk show host, comic, impressionist, and activist Randy Credico.
I first met Credico when I was advising billionaire Tom Golisano in his 75-million-dollar independent bid for Governor of New York against Governor George Pataki, who governed conservatively in his first term but mortgaged controlled of state finances to the municipal unions in return for their endorsement in his re-election and Carl McCall the elected African-American State Comptroller.
Golisano, a maverick billionaire from Rochester, had proposed the legalization of medicinal marijuana as the candidate of New York’s Reform Party affiliate, the New York Independence Party who backed his message with millions from the fortune he made as the founder and CEO of PAYCHEX. It shows how far ahead of his time the billionaire philanthropist entrepreneur Tom Golisano was.
Credico pitched me on Golisano’s calling for reform of New York’s Draconian drug laws name for New York Governor Nelson “Rocky” A. Rockefeller. Rocky, who began as a liberal Republican needed to move to the right, along with a rapidly changing Republican party. Rockefeller rebranded himself as tough on drugs and crime to win back Republican voters outraged with his tax and spending policies. Rockefeller’s pollsters told him in his 1970 bid for a third term, he had to join the “Law and Order” brigade of Nixon and Agnew.
Although I was pro- marijuana legalization based on my mostly Libertarian views, I was really obtuse about our expensive, ignominious, and racist drug laws and the outrageous mandatory sentences for non-violent people in possession of small amounts of drugs which has created an upstate cottage industry of prison guards and purveyors of services to upstate prisons. Judges were restricted from any discretion, being compelled to mete out harsh punishment for first time offenders, despite the absence of any previous criminal record.
The Rockefeller drug laws were ruining lives, destroying families and rehabilitating no one, while tax payers paid through the nose for the long-term incarceration of an enormous disproportionate African-American and Latino prison population. Because of the less than valiant use of the pardon power by Governor Andrew Cuomo, people remained lost in New York’s broken system.
Randy Credico opened my eyes to all of this and arranged for me and Tom Golisano appear at a “countdown to justice” rally with the Reverend Al Sharpton, hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons and then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, calling for reform of the Rockefeller Laws. Ultimately Simmons would hijack the negotiations in the state legislature to reform the law in the face of the wide spread criticism, but Simmons agreed to modest reforms that have not helped those still trapped in the corroded rectum of the New York State penal system
Credico is an engaging character with a deep sense of history, a great sense of humor, and a sometimes-deadly ability as an impressionist. Credico’s “Richard Nixon” is dead on. Credico actually had two Nixon impressions, the “relaxed” Nixon, worldly Statesman which is uncanny in its accuracy, and an “over the top cartoonish” Nixon, dropping catch phrases like “let me make this perfectly clear” and “I am not a crook.”
Credico had a stunning star-turn as a comic impressionist who ran afoul of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and was banished. By Credico’s own admission, this successful comedian’s career spiraled out of control because of drug abuse. Randy would grapple with his demons but reinvented himself as a one man advocate for drug law reform and prison law reform helping found the New York Mothers of the Disappeared, black and Latino mothers whose sons and daughters had disappeared into the halls of New York State penal system. Credico would travel to Albany dressed as Diogynese in his efforts to shame the Legislature and the Governor into drug law reform and broader use of the pardon system.
Credico’s talents as an impressionist were such that during Tom Golisano’s campaign Randy called the campaign manager as “Tom” and fired the young man. Golisano’s temperament made the gag believable. I continued to maintain that Credico, who has heard me rant over martinis and cigars can be heard in the voice message to Governor Elliot Spitzer’s father, warning him that his sons corruption would soon bring him down. Credico’s impression of me is incredible.
It was Randy Credico who first brought to my attention in mid-July 2016, the public claim of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that he had significant material on the Democrats and Hillary Clinton and would publish those documents. Up until this time, I had not been paying much attention to WikiLeaks and was not following the WikiLeaks or Assange feeds on Twitter.
I knew that Randy had a long association with the William Kuntser Foundation and was particularly close to Kunstler’s wife, Margaret, the radical lawyer’s widow and a most able attorney herself. Randy was competing with hundreds of other journalists to land Julian Assange as a guest on his radio show at WBAI, a legendary progressive station in New York City, where Credico had seemed to have found his niche as a talk show host. Assange would subsequently give Credico extraordinary interviews that are well worth listening to. I figured Credico knew what he was talking about.
I asked Randy to confirm that the Australian journalist had credible information on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Assange is held a virtual captive in a cramped embassy in London where he is being persecuted for doing what all real journalists do, sometimes obtaining classified information from whistle blowers that embarrasses governments and publishing it. The intelligence agencies repeated insistence that Assange is a Russian agent and that WikiLeaks is a Russian front is as phony as their certitude that the DNC’s mail servers were hacked by “Russians.”
It is important to note that Credico never said from whom he gained this confirmation, or the source, or the content of whatever was coming. He told me it would be released October 1st. I consider him a confirming source and little else despite my hype of calling him a back channel.
From the end of July through August until the end of September, Credico insisted that Assange was about to publish this material on the Democrats which Randy described as “devastating” to Hillary, on October 1st. When Assange scheduled a press event on October 1st, I was among those predicting the impact on Hillary Clinton even though I did not know the source or the content of the disclosures. Credico speculated that the material pertaining to the Clinton Foundation, a prediction that turned out to be only partially right, with those emails lacking the “devastating” facts revealed in the DNC email traffic.
When Assange made no disclosures on October 1st, Alex Jones was among those publicly motherfucking Assange for losing his nerve. Credico told me that Assange had demurred on October 1st because of the concerns of one of his lawyers, Daniel Ellsberg, about threats to Assange’s life if he went forward with the disclosures. Remember, Hillary Clinton actually advocated the use of a drone strike to kill Assange in London, in order to prevent the disclosure of what she knew he had. Credico told me that Secretary of State John Kerry had astonishingly gone to British Prime Minister Teresa May and asked that Britain rescind its diplomatic recognition of Ecuador for one day, stripping Assange of his asylum, so that US and British authorities could storm the Embassy and seize Assange.
Credico also told me that Kerry had convened a conference call of the heads of state of the Latin American countries surrounding Ecuador to demand they assert pressure on the Ecuadorian government to turn over the embattled journalist, warning that there would be harsh treatment for those nations that did not help the US government in this regard.
Credico predicted that Assange “would do the right thing” and in fact Assange announced the schedule of a serious of forthcoming disclosures in his October 1st remarks, which was little noticed by the press. He would follow this schedule to devastating effect.
To make an important point, Credico never mentioned anything about the emails of John Podesta, nor did I publicly predict that his emails would be hacked and published by WikiLeaks or anyone else. Acutely aware of Podesta’s not-so-subtle hand in pushing stories regarding the Ukrainian business activities of Paul Manafort, I was well aware of Podesta’s extensive business dealings with the oligarchs around Vladimir Putin, having read about it in the Panama papers published in April of 2016. I had also read a devastating opposition research memo by the investigative journalist Dr. Jerome Corsi which outlined Podesta’s involvement in Russian banking, uranium, and gas interests. I didn’t need a heads up from WikiLeaks to tell me that Podesta’s business dealings would prove controversial and “his time in the barrel” would come. I specifically never made any reference or prediction about Podesta’s emails, and the assertion that I was involved in obtaining them for WikiLeaks is categorically false. Many media outlets reported on the Podesta brothers’ dealings, including a piece I wrote based entirely on public sources.
Attention Aaron Blake ; I never had advance notice or knowledge of the hacking of any emails by anyone. Twist that one.
While I testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Intelligence about all of this, I initially declined to supply Credico’s name to the Committee for fear of professional reprisal against Credico whose life seemed to have stabilized with his WBAI gig and he was getting big ratings for provocative interviews. At the urging of Rep. Trey Gowdy and other members of the Committee I decided to supply Credico’s name to the Committee in a letter from my attorneys to the Committee’s attorneys. As a I feared, Credico was fired at WBAI when his name leaked.
To be absolutely clear, neither Credico, nor WikiLeaks, nor Julian Assange, nor the Russians, or anybody else sent me any of the documents ultimately published by WikiLeaks. As Assange himself said, I never Tweeted or predicted anything that Assange and WikiLeaks had not already publicly disclosed. I was a keen reader of Assange’s Twitter feed and picked up significant interviews through a constant Google News search. I had no advanced knowledge of the content, source or ultimate timing of any of the WikiLeaks disclosures including the infamous DNC emails. I did carefully mirror Julian Assange’s own disclosures, but only after he made them.
Equally false is the irresponsible claim by Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin who extrapolated from the House Democrats Russian collusion memo that the Russians gave advance copies of the hacked material to Trump insiders and her assertion was that it included me. This is categorically false! There is no evidence to support this assertion, yet Rubin has refused a request from my attorney for a correction. When I said this on MTP Daily with Chuck Todd, Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times said this story did not exist. Goldberg falsely claimed that I said the memo itself inferred that I received such documents when I clearly ascribed this false report to the Washington Post. Here it is.
When the House Select Committee on Intelligence sought to question Credico regarding what he considered to be perfectly legal activity, well within his scope of operating as a journalist, the veteran comic asserted his 5th Amendment Rights. I on the other hand testified for 4 and a half hours, under oath explaining my comments.
Sadly Credico, having dodged under oath testimony in front of the Congress, is now having amnesia regarding what really transpired. Perhaps the out of work comedian is embarrassed that he was “talking out of school” prior to his landing Assange as a “big get” on his radio show.
Fortunately, Credico bragged about his role in educating me as to Assange’s claims that he had the “motherlode” on Hillary and would disgorge it, to another journalist.
Since I never received any material whatsoever from WikiLeaks or the Russians, or any other source, the charge that I provided those documents to either Donald Trump or anyone in the Trump Campaign is patently false. You can’t give what you never got. I can honestly say that I never discussed the WikiLeaks DNC material with candidate or President Donald J Trump before, during or after the election. This dog won’t hunt.
The Atlantic magazine recently published a truncated, doctored screenshot of a direct message exchange between me and WikiLeaks, which has long since been turned over to the House Intelligence Committee in its true and complete form months ago. Only in the current, highly charged atmosphere can a leaked document which is entirely exculpatory and proves that I was not collaborating with WikiLeaks, provoke an “AHA” moment.
The tragic meltdown of Sam Nunberg brought new attention to the issue of the WikiLeaks disclosures, when Nunberg in a wild a contradictory series of interviews said he would not cooperate or honor a subpoena for documents of any email between Nunberg and numerous officials of the Trump Campaign including Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, Steven Miller and myself.
Sam Nunberg was not speaking at my behest or direction. Nunberg was however correct when he said I haven’t done anything wrong.
Vultures in the main stream media including the Washington Post, Salon, and Vice jumped to the immediate conclusion that my indictment was imminent because there was evidence that I had received a heads up and copies of the DNC documents and provided them to Donald Trump and the Trump Campaign. This is wishful thinking by my political enemies. There is no evidence to support such a charge.
The only possible impropriety of contacts or dialog with WikiLeaks, is based on a premise that Assange is acting for a foreign power, namely the Russians a mantra repeated endlessly by our politicized intelligence agencies, but unsubstantiated by any evidence they can cite. All the while, they push their ridiculous claims of being “highly confident” in their “assessment” of WikiLeaks and Assange. Julian Assange is a heroic journalist. As Sean Hannity who has interviewed Assange points out, WikiLeaks’ track record of accuracy and authenticity is unblemished after 11 years.
When I made this point in my MSNBC interview their legal analyst Ari Melber said I was “moving the goal post” in my declaration that Assange was not a Russian agent. He asserted that I did so to essentially absolve myself of treason because of the perpetuated lie that I trafficked documents from WikiLeaks, an activity in which I never engaged. What hole does Mr. Melber live in? I have asserted my belief that Assange is being persecuted simply because WikiLeaks has disclosed information embarrassing to the established order and the Obama Administration, as well as our overreaching intelligence agencies. For months, I have repeated my belief that Assange is being wrongly labeled as a Russian asset, including in this op-ed piece I wrote in for a newspaper in England. No Ari this is not something new that I have been saying.
And now, who should help Credico peddle the crap that he was not my connection to WikiLeaks, but Mike Issikof, who the FBI fed the phony dossier to “place” a story they would then cite in court to support their politically motivated and illegal spying. A deep state shill, he beseeched me to disclose Credico’s name to him “for his book” and I wouldn’t spit it up.