David Corn

David Corn

Washington Bureau Chief

Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.

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John Dean: The McConnell Tape Isn't Watergate and May Not Be Illegal

| Tue Apr. 16, 2013 8:27 PM EDT

John Dean, a principal in the Watergate scandal, in 1975

This is interesting. John Dean, Richard Nixon's White House counsel and a star Watergate witness, has weighed in on the McConnell tape controversy. His take: This ain't Watergate, and the making of the tape probably wasn't illegal.

After Mother Jones and I disclosed a secretly recorded tape capturing Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and campaign aides discussing using actor/activist Ashley Judd's past struggles with depression and her religious views as political ammo (should she challenge McConnell), McConnell and aides claimed the minority leader was the victim of a Watergate-style operation and called on the FBI to investigate. McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, also played the Hitler card and compared the taping to "Gestapo" tactics. At the end of last week, local Kentucky media reported that two local Democratic operatives linked to a super-PAC called Progress Kentucky, Curtis Morrison and Shawn Reilly, were involved in the taping, having recorded a conversation they heard in a hallway after an open house at McConnell's campaign headquarters in Louisville. Subsequent reports fingered Morrison more than Reilly. And Morrison has set up a legal defense fund without publicly acknowledging any role in the taping. (I did not comment on the media reports naming Morrison and Reilly because I had promised my source confidentiality.)

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