Activist Who Secretly Recorded Mitch McConnell Still in Limbo

Jun 12, 2013 3:04pm
ap mitch mcconnell dm 130612 wblog Activist Who Secretly Recorded Mitch McConnell Still in Limbo

Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

ABC News’ Michael Falcone, Jonathan Karl and Jack Date report:

UPDATED: It has been nearly two weeks since a liberal activist and freelance journalist named Curtis Morrison publicly admitted to secretly recording Sen. Mitch McConnell earlier this year. But federal authorities have yet to say whether he is being prosecuted.

“Earlier this year, I secretly made an audio recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the most powerful Republican on the planet, at his campaign headquarters in Kentucky,” Morrison wrote in a May 31 Salon.com article. “The released portion of the recording clocks in at less than 12 minutes, but those few minutes changed my life.”

Morrison said he leaked the recording to Mother Jones, which published them in April.

Despite being questioned by the FBI two months ago, Morrison said in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday that he had no idea when he might be charged with a crime.

“I’m not a person that can predict what the Department of Justice is going to do,” he said.

McConnell called Morrison’s recording of a Feb. 2 strategy session at his campaign office in Kentucky a ”Watergate-style bugging,” and FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told ABC News in early April that the bureau was looking into the matter.

The FBI declined to comment today, as did the McConnell campaign.

The recording features McConnell and his aides devising tactics for discrediting actress Ashley Judd, who, at the time, was considering entering the U.S. Senate race against McConnell. She ultimately decided not to run.

“I assume most of you have played the game Whac-A-Mole?” McConnell is heard saying on the tape. “This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign, when anybody sticks their head up, do them out.”

Federal law prohibits individuals from conducting electronic recordings of others unless the recorder is either part of the conversation or they obtain the consent of at least one person being recorded. A similar law is on the books in Kentucky.

In his interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Morrsion said he handed over his computer and e-mail password to the FBI to cooperate with their investigation.

“The reason they wanted the Google password is to see how I transferred the video to Mother Jones,” he said. “One of the allegations that was being made publicly was that Mother Jones may have been in on it, it’s a popular allegation to make but in this case it’s ridiculous.”

And in an interview with a local Kentucky television station earlier this month, Morrison said he could make a case for his innocence.

“I did not feel like I was breaking the law when I did what I did,” he told ABC News affiliate WHAS11 News in Louisville.  “From my understanding of both Kentucky statutes and federal law, I think the case can be made that I did not break the law.”

In his Salon article, Morrison, a former operative for liberal group Progress Kentucky, said an assistant U.S. attorney called his lawyer in late May to arrange a meeting and to say that the case had been referred to a grand jury. Morrison, 44, also disclosed that he had left Kentucky for California, planning to attend law school starting this fall.

Morrison also suggested that he was willing to face the consequences of his actions: “If I get whacked in the process, so be it,” he wrote.

When asked on Wednesday whether he was comfortable with what he did, Morrison unequivocally said he was: “I think we need to do more of that and there will be less people keeping secrets.”

The Department of Justice has not responded to a request for comment on where the Morrison investigation stands.

ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe contributed reporting.

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