The Department of Justice is treating the liberal activist who admitted to bugging one of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offices as a journalist, potentially delaying the speed at which it can investigate him for possibly violating federal anti-eavesdropping laws.
According to Politico, Curtis Morrison, the McConnell bugger, was “an activist for Progress Kentucky with the sole mission of bringing down McConnell.” The 44-year-old also happened to be “a freelancer for Insider Louisville, a local news website, in 2011.” The publication fired him after the bugging revelations.
He also reportedly wrote six op-eds for the Louisville Courier-Journal. As a result, the Justice Department is reportedly treating Morrison as a journalist, which would mean Attorney General Eric Holder would most likely have to approve the subpoena to obtain records from Morrison.
As Politico reported on Friday:
At the same time, any attempts to subpoena evidence from Curtis Morrison — a liberal activist who surreptitiously taped McConnell and his aides at a campaign meeting in February — would most likely need the personal approval of Attorney General Eric Holder, according to federal regulations, which require Holder to approve subpoenas for journalists. Morrison was previously a paid freelancer for a Louisville-based, online news outlet, even though he was engaged in political activities with the goal to defeat McConnell.
“Sources familiar with” the investigation told Politico that the investigation “appears to have slowed down” since the Justice Department decided to consider Morrison a journalist. A Justice Department official, though, told Politico that “no one from department headquarters has sought to interfere with the investigation or slow it down in any way.”
Morrison, affiliated with the liberal “Progress Kentucky,” eavesdropped along with another member of the group on February 2. If he is found to have violated federal anti-eavesdropping laws, he could face a five-year prison term and be fined up to $250,000.
The Justice Department is still under fire over revelations that the department obtained warrants to search computer and phone records of Associated Press reporters and Fox News reporter James Rosen.