Randy Credico, a radio host subpoenaed to testify Friday before the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is off the hook after asserting in advance his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to his attorney.
Mr. Credico was subpoenaed last month to testify before committee members, but his appearance was canceled this week after his attorney told Congress he wouldn’t answer their questions, Mother Jones reported Wednesday.
“Please be advised that in response to questioning at the scheduled deposition, Mr. Credico will assert the protections of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution and decline to answer any questions beyond personal pedigree,” his attorney, Martin Stolar, wrote to the committee’s chief clerk Tuesday, according to a copy of the correspondence shared with Mother Jones.
“Since your client will be pleading the 5th Amendment, the Committee does not require his presence for the scheduled interview,” Kashyap Patel, the committee’s senior counsel for counterterrorism, replied later Tuesday, Mother Jones reported.
Neither the Democratic nor Republican members of Congress leading the panel’s probe into the 2016 race immediately responded to requests for comment.
The intel committee is one of four congressional panels currently investigating Russia’s role in last year’s election, and its members are likely curious about the documented ties between Mr. Credico and both WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and Republican strategist Roger Stone, President Trump’s former campaign adviser.
WikiLeaks released documents on its website throughout the 2016 election damaging to Mr. Trump’s former rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and U.S. intelligence officials have determined those materials were sourced by Russian state-sponsored hackers during the course of a broader, Kremlin-authorized campaign meant to hurt her odds of winning the White House.
The committees are investigating both Moscow’s alleged election meddling and any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Mr. Stone predicted the release of those documents prior to their publication, and he later boasted of having a “perfectly legal back channel” to Mr. Assange. He initially refused to disclose his source to House investigators, but last month he revealed that Mr. Credico had told him WikiLeaks would target Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
“As I told the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Credico merely confirmed for me a press report of July 21 in which Julian Assange said he had obtained Clinton emails and would publish them. This confirmation proved correct,” Mr. Stone told The Washington Times on Thursday.
“Needless to say, I continue to reject the ridiculous assertion that Julian Assange and Wikileaks are Russian assets. WikiLeaks is a news organization and Julian Assange is a journalist,” Mr. Stone told The Times.
Mr. Credico has interviewed both Mr. Stone and Mr. Assange, and he met personally with the latter in London as recently as last month.
Letting the radio host invoke his Fifth Amendment right “is the safest thing,” his attorney told Mother Jones.
“Randy is a gadfly. I don’t want him walking into an open questioning,” Mr. Stolar said Wednesday. “Julian Assange is radioactive.”
“I don’t want to let my client, who is opposed to these folks, play games with them and expose himself under oath to God knows what,” he added. “If they want to go charge Randy with something, then let them do it, not with his own words. I’m not saying he’s a criminal suspect in anything. But that is what the Fifth Amendment is for, to protect against self-incrimination.”
Mr. Assange did not return messages seeking comment. He previously said Mr. Stone was “trolling Democrats” by fabricating ties with WikiLeaks.
Russia has denied meddling in Mr. Trump’s election, the White House has denied colluding with the Kremlin and WikiLeaks has denied being in cahoots with Russia.