“Gonna be a bad day for Corbett and company.”
Political consultant Josh Morrow texted those words to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane at 8:24 p.m. on June 5, 2014. It was the night before an article appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News based on confidential documents Kane is now accused of leaking.
During the most shocking testimony so far in Kane’s criminal trial, Morrow described Thursday how he helped her leak secret investigative material to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan to embarrass prosecutors under former AG Tom Corbett – and how they conspired to cover up Kane’s role in the leak by creating a story.
Morrow testified under an immunity order signed on Wednesday and admitted lying during a grand jury investigation of the leak.
“I was still trying to protect Kathleen,” he said.
In court Thursday, prosecutors played an FBI recording of a phone call Morrow made to his friend, John Lisko. The FBI recorded Lisko’s calls as part of a separate investigation.
“Kathleen called me today and she’s like, ‘Adrian has documents for you to leak out’,” Morrow says on the recording, contradicting what he had said during the grand jury investigation.
‘Best served cold’
On April 22, 2014, Kane asked Morrow “to do her a favor.” She said her first deputy, Adrian King had some documents they wanted Morrow to deliver to a reporter, he told jurors on Thursday.
Morrow agreed. He and Kane had become friends after he helped run her successful campaign for the Attorney General’s office in 2012, which Morrow considered “one of the crowning achievements” of his career.
Kane told him it was a memo and a transcript from a 2009 grand jury investigation of former Philadelphia NAACP president J. Whyatt Mondesire.
King called later that evening and arranged for Morrow to pick up the package documents at King’s home in Chestnut Hill.
On May 4, 2014, Morrow gave the package to Philadelphia Daily News reporter Chris Brennan. He said the purpose was “to show Frank Fina shutdown the investigation” into Mondesire. It was payback for Fina, a former state prosecutor Kane blamed for another newspaper story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Kane kiling a sting investigation into Democratic state lawmakers caught taking bribes from an undercover informant.
The following evening, Morrow texted Kane, “What is saying about revenge?”
“Best served cold,” she replied. “Are we eating out soon?”
Crafting a cover-up
In August, about two months after the Daily News story ran, Morrow said he and Kane had planned to meet for lunch in Philadelphia.
Her driver, Patrick Reese, picked him up on the corner of 16th and Locust Streets and instead of taking him straight to the Bellevue, Reese brought Morrow to a parking garage where he took his cell phone, keys and wallet and “wanded” him down.
Morrow told the jury he believed Reese was checking for hidden recording devices.
When he and Kane finally met for lunch, she informed him a grand jury investigation had been launched into the leak.
Morrow said that was when they began crafting their cover-up. They agreed to say Kane never saw the documents and to point the finger at her second-in-command, Adrian King. King testified on Wednesday that the attorney general and Morrow were trying to frame him.
At the time, Kane was “not phased” by the investigation, Morrow said.
But by their next meeting in October at a park in Dunmore outside Scranton, Kane was “definitely a lot more frantic.”
“She was like, ‘I need help, I need help, I need help,’” Morrow said.
‘The lies starting to unravel’
Morrow testified before the grand jury three times and always stuck with the “story.”
But when he appeared in the Montgomery County Courthouse on Thursday, he admitted he lied.
“In my original grand jury statement, I said I had a lengthy conversation with Adrian King and he walked me through the documents,” he said. “That is not true.”
When prosecutors got a hold of his phone records, which showed he only had a brief phone conversation with King, Morrow realized the evidence did not support his account.
“I realized the lies starting to unravel,” he said.