Politico on Wednesday reported
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign asked the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office on Tuesday to investigate how Mother Jones magazine obtained a recording of a February strategy session.
“Senator McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement. “Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”
You will not be surprised that, with the FBI not yet investigating the matter, Rush Limbaugh has it all figured out- and that it's Democrats to blame. This afternoon, he claimed
What it was, they recorded a strategery meeting of McConnell staffers talking about opposition research they could use against the actress Ashley Judd who was thinking of running against McConnell in the 2014 Senate race...
Highly illegal? Nothing is illegal in entrapping Republicans. Nothing is illegal in exposing Republicans. Nothing is illegal in exposing conservatives for who and what they really are. Nothing is illegal when you can find out how sexist and misogynist the McConnell staff is. Nothing's illegal.
A spokesperson for Mother Jones denies the magazine is part of a grand Democratic conspiracy, stating "we were recently provided the tape by a source who wished to remain anonymous. We were not involved in the making of the tape, but we published a story on the tape due to its obvious newsworthiness." Judd, who was expected to make the run, had begged out of the race shortly before the tape's release.
The Politico reporter added
McConnell is not disputing the authenticity of the tape. Yesterday, his campaign offices were swept by a private security detail, which did not find a bug. Still, given that the meeting was attending by only a handful of longtime McConnell insiders, team McConnell is convinced it was not an internal leak. In an earlier statement, the McConnell campaign accused “the Left” of using “Nixonian tactics” and bugging the campaign’s headquarters.
David Corn, who broke the story, stated "He has tremendous troubles in Kentucky with conservatives, so if he can make himself the target of a left wing hit job, it's going to help him get out of this very difficult situation." Limbaugh is parroting this line, the standard GOP victim card, remarking "You think that a recording device that enabled Mother Jones to overhear and find out what McConnell's staffers were doing involving Ashley Judd is gonna benefit McConnell?"
Not only do the Repubs claim victimhood; both the McConnell and Limbaugh camps try to draw comparisons to Watergate.
Curiously, Rush claims "Anyway, that's the kind of stuff that's out there, so she's decided not to run, but nevertheless Mother Jones magazine somehow got a recording device in McConnell's office, think Watergate. Think Watergate here." There, President Nixon himself was the culprit:
The next morning, Woodward received a phone call from a senior investigator. "We interviewed Butterfield," he said. "He told the whole story."
What whole story? Woodward asked.
"Nixon bugged himself," the investigator replied.
Woodward called Bradlee at home Saturday night and told him what he had learned. Bradlee, half-asleep, didn't seem very interested.
"How would you rate the story?" Woodward asked.
"B-plus," Bradlee replied.
So in a way perhaps unintended, McConnell/Limbaugh may be right. The McConnell/Judd incident is reminscent of the campaign run by Karl Rove in 1984 in the Texas gubernatorial race. Here is described an incident from "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" by James Moore and Wayne Slater, in which
Rove told reporters that someone had bugged his office where he was campaign manager for Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill Clements. On the morning of a major debate Rove called a press conference. He said, "Obviously I don't know who did this. But there is no doubt in my mind that the only ones who would benefit from this detailed, sensitive information would be the political opposition." The press quickly assumed the bugging was done by Clements' opponent, Mark White, who was leading in the polls. By election day, Rove's candidate won and the source of the bug was never found -- but many reporters later concluded that Rove himself had placed it.
Mitch McConnell following Karl Rove's playbook? Widely unpopular in Kentucky and determined to be re-elected, the Senate Majority Leader could do worse.