Judd has announced that she will not seek McConnell's seat next cycle, ending speculation that had raged for months. The Mother Jones recording reveals that McConnell's team was weighing how best to oppose her as early as Feb. 2.
"She's clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced," a male aide says on the tape. "It's been documented … She's suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s."
Judd spent 47 days at a rehabilitation program in Texas in 2006, she told Glamour magazine at the time. The treatment focused on her struggle with depression and certain compulsive behaviors.
McConnell, who has called for a federal investigation of the recording, did not respond to questions Tuesday about its content. He instead slammed a liberal PAC called Progress Kentucky and suggested its operatives had bugged his campaign office.
"This is what you get from the political left in America these days," McConnell told reporters.
The GOP leader fought with Progress Kentucky last month after it suggested that he supports outsourcing jobs to China because his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, is Taiwanese. The group eventually apologized after a bipartisan backlash.
"They were attacking my wife's ethnicity and then apparently also, unbeknownst to us at the time, they were bugging our headquarters, a quite Nixonian move," McConnell said Tuesday. "I think that pretty well sums up the way the political left is operating in Kentucky."