A Key Witness Against Roger Stone Says William Barr Twisted His Words

Randy Credico still says Stone threatened him. It still matters.

Randy Credico with his dog Bianca and his attorney on September 7. 2019.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Randy Credico says he hasn’t slept at home in more than two years. The comedian and activist has been laying low, somewhere in New York, since proclaiming publicly in early 2018 that longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone lied in congressional testimony in October 2017 by claiming Credico was Stone’s intermediary to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. Credico says he fears verbal attacks by Stone and his associates, along with the president’s denunciations of Stone’s prosecution, could cause Trump fans to target him. “There are a lot of sleeper cells out there in red hats toting guns,” Credico says. 

Credico has been saying stuff like that since the spring of 2018. His worries started when Stone sent him a slew of vitriolic messages that prosecutors later successfully argued amounted to an intimidation effort aimed at preventing Credico from talking about Stone to congressional investigators or the FBI. “Prepare to die cock sucker,” Stone wrote in one. In another, Stone said he would take Credico’s dog, Bianca, “away from you.” 

Astonishingly, these idiotic emails now factor in a controversy over Attorney General William Barr’s politicization of the Justice Department. Credico testified against Stone in a trial last fall that resulted in Stone’s conviction on five counts of making false statements to lawmakers, obstruction of Congress, and witness tampering. Attention to Credico’s testimony increased in February, when prosecutors in the case recommended Stone receive seven to nine years in prison. The prosecutors cited Stone’s emails to apply a guideline that imposes longer sentences for offenders who threaten witnesses with violence.

Responding to news reports on the prosecutors’ recommendation, Trump, in a 1:48 a.m. tweet on February 11, called the proposed punishment “horrible and very unfair.” Later that day, at the behest of Barr, who claims he was not influenced by Trump’s tweet, Justice Department officials overrode the front-line prosecutors’ original recommendation. In a new memo that said Stone should receive a shorter sentence, these officials argued that Stone had not really threatened Credico, pointing to a letter Credico had sent the judge in the case seeking leniency for Stone. “I never in any way felt that Stone himself posed a direct physical threat to me or my dog,” Credico wrote.

On February 20, District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to just over three years in prison. Stone, who is 67, is now arguing for a delay in the start of his sentence due to the risk of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Aaron Zelinsky, a lead prosecutor in the Stone case, told the House Judiciary Committee that Barr’s intervention was politically-driven, an intervention based on Stone’s relationship with Trump. Zelinsky said the prosecutors’ jobs were threatened over the sentence. “We were pressured to say that Mr. Credico had no concerns and had no worries as a result of Mr. Stone’s conduct,” he said.

Zelinsky said federal sentencing guidelines cite the threat of violence, not the likelihood of it being carried out, as a cause for tougher sentences. And he noted that Credico had said in grand jury testimony that he was concerned Stone would incite violence against him. That justified the recommendation for a longer sentence, the prosecutor testified. 

I first reported on Stone’s “Prepare to die” email on May 25, 2018. I asked Credico then how he interpreted Stone’s words. “That was a threat,” Credico responded.

Credico tells me he hasn’t changed his tune since. Credico even says that fear of violence was part of his motivation for writing to Judge Jackson to urge leniency for Stone. “I certainly didn’t want to be the guy who was was totally responsible for putting him in jail,” Credico says, describing his motivation. Credico has spent decades advocating against mandatory sentences in New York. He actually met Stone through that work. And he says his letter reflects his own view, dating to the imprisonment of his father when he was a child, that incarceration should be vastly reduced. “I find it deeply disturbing and cynical for Attorney General Barr to have mischaracterized my letter to Judge Jackson to justify his ominous purging of the Justice Department on behalf of his client Donald Trump,” Credico said in a statement issued after Wednesday’s hearing.

Barr’s campaign for leniency for Stone and other Trump allies contrasts with his push for Justice Department prosecutors to generally seek maximum sentences for criminals. Credico writes: “It is a slap in the face to every other defendant in this country that Roger Stone received special favors and politically-motivated lenient treatment when there are thousands upon thousands of defendants who are not rich, not powerful, not influential and not friends with Donald Trump who receive no special treatment and no leniency whatsoever.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate