FBI visits McConnell's office after bugging allegations

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed the "political left" for bugging his campaign headquarters and releasing a videotape of the senator and his aides discussing a prospective Democratic opponent; he repeatedly declined to say whether the discussion, which touched on his potential foe's religion and struggle with depression, was fair game.

Just a day after Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused the "political left" of illegally bugging his office, the FBI paid a visit to the longtime senator's Louisville campaign office to look into the allegations, according to Jesse Benton, a campaign aide for McConnell.

According to Benton, the FBI stayed in the office for "about an hour."

"Wonderful people, great to work with," Benton said in an email, adding that FBI "were [sic] taking this very seriously."

The FBI did not dispute that it had agents at McConnell's Louisville office today and that it is investigating McConnell's allegations, which the senator leveled yesterday after the liberal magazine Mother Jones published a secret recording of a campaign meeting between McConnell and several aides.

McConnell was mostly silent during the meeting - apart from a comment about playing "Whac-A-Mole" with his prospective challengers - but others in the room were presenting opposition research on his various potential re-election rivals, and Ashley Judd, the actress and activist, was targeted for history of depression and religious beliefs.

"You know, she's suffered some suicidal tendencies," said an aide, per the tape. "She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s. Phil Maxson found this, which sort of I think is a pretty revealing interview."

Judd had previously revealed in her 2011 autobiography, "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," that she had thoughts of suicide and bouts with depression when she was younger.

Benton said Wednesday that the campaign is "working with the FBI" to discern the source of the recording, and suggested there might be a subsequent criminal investigation.

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

In response to the accusations, Mother Jones released a statement noting that while the publication was "not involved in the making of the tape," it was "our understanding that the tape was not the product of a Watergate-style bugging operation."

Benton did not respond to questions about why it was presumed the recording was the work of criminals, rather than, as is normally the case in these circumstances, an internal leak.

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