FBI investigating alleged bugging of Republican senator's office

Washington, Apr 9 (EFE).- The FBI said Tuesday that it is "looking into" who may have bugged Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office and taped him at a private meeting with members of his reelection campaign discussing strategies to discredit a possible election rival.

"I can only confirm that we were contacted by Sen. McConnell's office and that we are looking into those accusations," Mary Trotman, an FBI spokesperson in Louisville, Kentucky, told Efe.

On the tape of the Feb. 2, 2013, campaign strategy meeting, which was released on Tuesday by Mother Jones magazine, McConnell and his campaign committee members are heard discussing ways to discredit actress Ashley Judd, who at the time was considering challenging McConnell's reelection bid for his Kentucky Senate seat in 2014.

Last week, Judd decided not to run for the seat and, for now, McConnell's reelection campaign has not presented any proof that the tape recording was the result of illegal bugging.

McConnell and members of his campaign staff are heard on the tape discussing tactics they could use to hurt Judd's candidacy, including pointing up her past struggles with depression and her religious opinions.

A source close to the campaign, however, told the daily Politico that they are presuming that "a crime was committed" because "nobody in that meeting leaked this."

An unidentified voice on the tape can be heard saying that Judd is "emotionally unbalanced," had shown evidence of "suicidal tendencies" and "was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s."

McConnell's campaign says that the tape was not leaked by any insider and the senator himself accused "the political left" of resorting to "quite a Nixonian move" to get confidential information.

In remarks to reporters on Tuesday, McConnell said that the alleged illegal tape shows "what the political left does these days."

McConnell complained to reporters that last month, leaders on the left attacked the ethnic origin of his wife and were listening in to conversations in his campaign headquarters. The Senate Republican leader refused to respond to reporters' questions about his alleged strategy against Judd.

McConnell's second wife is Elaine Chao, the former labor secretary under George W. Bush and the first Asian American woman to serve in the Cabinet.