04.09.1311:29 AM ET

Mitch McConnell and Mother Jones

Mitch McConnell is asking the FBI to investigate how Mother Jones's David Corn got an audiotape of McConnell and campaign staffers discussing Ashley Judd's potential liabilities as a candidate (this was before she decided not to run). CNN got the scoop:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign is "working with the FBI" on how Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, obtained a recording of political aides meeting with McConnell and discussing opposition research on Ashley Judd, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told CNN Tuesday.

In the recordings, political operatives huddling at the senator's campaign headquarters in Kentucky, are heard discussing potentially attacking Judd's mental health, as well as her left-leaning politics, if she had decided to make a bid against McConnell, who's running for a sixth term in office next year.

"Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell's campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished will presumably be the subject of a criminal investigation," Benton said in a statement.

Greg Sargent elaborates:

The suggestion by the McConnell campaign that Mother Jones engaged in “Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters” is intriguing; it constitutes a suggestion that Mother Jones broke the law. To my knowledge, the McConnell campaign didn’t provide CNN with any evidence of this. (The Mother Jones story only says that a “recording” of the strategy session “was obtained by Mother Jones.”) It’s a serious charge, and if it was made without evidence by the campaign of the Senate minority leader — perhaps the most powerful Republican elected official the country — it’s a big deal.

It seems quite a reach to think that MoJo planted microphones in whatever room these people were in. What McConnell clearly wants to do here is intimidate MoJo and Corn. In the wake of the 47 percent tape, I'd imagine that waitpersons and service staff all over the country are going to record Republicans talking and maybe send Corn their tapes. Shouldn't these people just make sure they have such meetings in somebody's house?

And if McConnell and aides were just talking about normal-nasty oppo stuff, as some of his defenders are claiming this morning, then why bring the FBI into it? If that's the case he and his people have nothing to be ashamed of or worried about. But plotting painting someone as mentally unstable is, in fact, a few ticks beyond normal nasty. They got caught and they're trying to change the subject.

And finally let's think about the ethics of a leader of the United States Senate trying to silence the press. That's what is going on here, and it's slimy.

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