TODAY   |  April 13, 2013

Could there be charges in McConnell bugging?

Washington is buzzing about a secret recording that’s emerged that pulled back the curtain on Mitch McConnell’s campaign strategy. With comparisons to Watergate and suspects already being investigated by the FBI, editorial director of The Huffington Post Howard Fineman weighed in with his perspective on what he called “shenanigans.” Howard Fineman is interviewed by TODAY’s Erica Hill.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a local super pac in committee is the target of an investigation into a secret recording made at senate minority leader's mitch mcconnell 's campaign headquarters in louisville. mcconnell said his office was bugged comparing it to watergate. his team was recorded as they talked about how to sink a possible run of ashley judd . the group expected to be behind the recordings. howard fineman is here. you know kentucky politics quite well we should point out. so the fbi is now investigating the taping of this conversation. was it recorded illegally?

>> that's an open question . the guy who i think did it was outside the closed locked room where mitch mcconnell and his aides were discussing this campaign. this person could hear what was going on and taped it either with a smartphone or some device and kentucky law and federal law it's possibly illegal but that's open to question because the person recording it could also hear it.

>> there are two men suspected of involvement here. both of them associated with this liberal kentucky superpac. one of them we haven't been able to reach despite our best efforts. the other one, his attorney says, he was in the building and didn't record it. there's a watchdog group , citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington that wants the fbi and senate ethics committee to investigate senator mitch mcconnell over some of the comments that were made and everything else that happened. let's be honest. politics is never pretty. what's going on on that end?

>> to call this a superpac is an overstatement. these are two guys running around in kentucky . mitch mcconnell is a five-term senator and never been that popular. he has a 36% approval rating in the state. democrats in kentucky can't agree on someone to run against mcconnell and into the vacuum goes this superpac which is a couple guys running around trying to make mischief. that's what's going on in the state. and the question is whether they can get together anything to run against mcconnell in this race.

>> so you're saying that's the real issue here is the fact that mcconnell is vulnerable and there's no one to run against him.

>> the people behind those closed doors were active staffers on the senate and shouldn't have been using senate time to discuss a campaign race the.

>> as a senate staffer you are allowed to volunteer --

>> the question is whether you are doing it on government time or not. again, the key thing is this is one of the most important republicans, one of the most powerful republicans and one of the most vulnerable republicans but democrats in the state can't find anybody to run against him because he's a very tough customer. he's actually managed to turn himself into a victim because of the shenanigans of what's going on in the state.

>> only the beginning of us