Justice Department now investigating secret recording of Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters in Washington, D.C. T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

The federal Justice Department has entered investigations into a secret taping at Mitch McConnell's campaign headquarters in February that showed the Senate minority leader ripping once-potential challenger Ashley Judd.

Washington-based Justice Department prosecutors are joining the case, Politico reports, after David Hale - U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky - recused himself because of his potential nomination for a federal judgeship, which would require Senate approval. Hale had led the probe into what McConnell's office has termed a "Nixonian" office "bugging."

The recording in question was made during a meeting between McConnell and his campaign aides in which they discussed opposition research for Ashley Judd, the actress and liberal activist who has since decided not to pursue a bid. Topics that came up in the meeting as possible campaign fodder included Judd's struggle with depression, her religious views and the fact that her grandmother allegedly once called her an "out-of-touch, Hollywood liberal."

In April, Jacob Conway, a committee member of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, named as the culprits Sean Reilly and Curtis Morrison - respectively, the founder and a former employee of liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky.

Politico points out that any attempts to subpoena evidence from Morrison, who was previously a paid freelancer for a Louisville-based online news outlet, would likely require personal approval from Attorney General Eric Holder. Among a host of other headaches, Holder continues to wade through backlash over contradicting reports about his role in the secret seizure of journalists' phone records.

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    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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