In a February meeting, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his staff gathered to discuss tactics for defeating possible Democratic challenger Ashley Judd, including the possibility of leveraging her "emotionally unbalanced" mental state.

Mother Jones' David Corn, who obtained secret audio of the Feb. 2 meeting, said that "McConnell and his aides considered assaulting Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views."

"She's clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced," the meeting leader says in one audio clip. "Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she's suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s."

In another clip, the meeting leader said that Judd was critical of "traditional Christianity" because it was a "vestige of patriarchy."

He explained: "She says Christianity gives a God like a man, presented and discussed exclusively with male imagery, which legitimizes and seals male power, the intention to dominate even if that intention is nowhere visible."

"I think too she's clearly sort of anti-sort-of-traditional American family," he added. "She described having children as selfish, and she thinks it's unconscionable to breed."

Last month, Judd announced that she would not run against McConnell for Kentucky's Senate seat.

In 2006, the actress told Glamour that she had spent 47 days in a treatment facility in Texas for "codependence in my relationships; depression; blaming, raging, numbing, denying and minimizing my feelings."

"I needed help," Judd said. "I was in so much pain."

She described a childhood of "complete and total chaos that was "in such a state of disarray and dysfunction that I became a hypervigilant child, doing the best I could to raise myself under extraordinarily unpredictable and unsafe circumstances."

At a appearance in Washington, D.C. last month, Judd spoke about being a three-time rape survivor.

"I'm a three-time survivor of rape, and about that I have no shame, because it was never my shame to begin with—it was the perpetrator's shame," she said. "And only when I was a grown empowered adult and had healthy boundaries and had the opportunity to do helpful work on that trauma was I able to say, okay, that perpetrator was shameless, and put their shame on me. Now I gave that shame back, and it's my job to break my isolation and talk with other girls and other women."

Update (11:00 a.m. ET): The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reportedly been asked to investigate the audio tapes published by Mother Jones on Tuesday.

McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told CNN that "we've always said the Left will stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters is above and beyond."

Update (2:30 p.m. ET): Mother Jones told Politico that the audio tape was not the result of a Watergate-style bugging operation.

Update (4:00 p.m. ET): In a statement provided to MSNBC, Judd said that the possibility the her mental health would be attacked in a campaign was "another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington, D.C."

Listen to these audio clips, uploaded April 9, 2013.

(h/t: Talking Points Memo)

[Photo: Genevieve719 via Flickr CC]