As you’ll see, an AP reporter who turned up on Matthews’s show this afternoon was apparently on the right track. According to a law enforcement source who talked to NBC, the point wasn’t to wiretap Landrieu’s phones. It was to figure out why so many people had trouble getting through to the office when they called to complain about the ObamaCare “Louisiana Purchase.”
Instead, the official says, the men, led by conservative videomaker James O’Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative. They were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views.
That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt — to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn’t get through?
I’m not sure what would have constituted “great concern.” Staffers asking how long it’ll be until the phones are fixed? Staffers bursting into tears at the thought that constituents might have to deal with a busy signal for a few hours? Presumably the idea was for O’Keefe to bait them by innocently asking if they’d ever had a phone outage before, to which the reply would ideally be, “Oh yeah, we took them off the hook during the ObamaCare uproar.”
Be sure to read Ace’s post noting the two subtly but crucially different possibilities here. If theory one is correct, that O’Keefe and company were trying to determine whether Landrieu’s staff had disabled the phones at any point to avoid angry voters, then arguably they didn’t “interfere” with anything. If theory two is correct, that O’Keefe and company intended to disable the phones themselves to see how the staff would react, well, that sure sounds like “interfering.” For now, only one thing is certain: David Shuster totally knows you’re guilty, Jimbo. Stay tuned.