Edwards e-mails acknowledge secret payments

posted at 11:18 am on June 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The Associated Press got an inside look at the case prosecutors will make against John Edwards for conspiracy, taking illegal contributions, and making false statements to the FEC, about which some observers have expressed skepticism.  Key e-mails obtained by the Department of Justice show that Edwards knew about the secret payments from the late Fred Baron and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, and notes taken by his speechwriter confirm that Edwards knew what the money was for:

People familiar with the case told The Associated Press that Edwards and his former speechwriter Wendy Button exchanged e-mails working on a draft statement for him to acknowledge what he had denied publicly — paternity of his out-of-wedlock child, along with knowledge of payments to keep his pregnant mistress in hiding.

The messages, draft statements and notes of their related phone conversations were obtained by prosecutors in their case against Edwards, indicted on charges he failed to report nearly $1 million allegedly spent to keep his mistress out of the public eye as he pursued the White House. The former senator was still denying he was the baby’s father and publicly maintained he knew nothing about any money that may have been spent when the e-mails were sent in summer 2009.

Prosecutors must prove the 2004 vice presidential nominee had knowledge of the payments to convict him in the campaign finance case. Edwards proclaimed his innocence of any crime after being indicted Friday.

Those notes could help the defense in one point.  Edwards told Button that he knew about the secret money flowing to keep Rielle Hunter from surfacing during his campaign, but Edwards told Button that he hadn’t asked for any assistance.  The prosecution plans to counter that with testimony from Andrew Young that the two of them strategized on how to raise money quietly to handle Hunter, but at least the defense can argue that Edwards could have just confessed to everything with Button and clearly did not.

That’s a rather weak argument, though.  Edwards’ public defense has been that the money got to Hunter without his knowledge.  If his own records show that’s not the case, then that should confirm at least the four counts of taking illegal contributions, and certainly the charge of filing false statements with the FEC.  All are felonies that carry significant fines and prison time.  Given that Edwards apparently saw all of this evidence when the DoJ offered him a deal for a guilty plea to misdemeanors that could have saved his law license, it makes his decision to reject the plea bargain even more incomprehensible.

Edwards apparently believes that he can convince a jury that arranging (or at the very least allowing) secret payments to his mistress from wealthy benefactors to keep her out of public view had nothing to do with his political ambitions.   Good luck with that.  Even though some of this took place after Edwards clearly dropped out of contention for the nomination, he still raised funds and kept his campaign going.  Furthermore, until Edwards’ scandal erupted, he was widely considered a contender for a Cabinet nomination in either a Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton administration, with the post of Attorney General most discussed — leading the very agency that will now prosecute him.  Convincing either a judge or a jury that Edwards’ political ambitions had nothing to do with wealthy donors funding a cover-up of an extramarital affair will take a much better lawyer than Edwards, or likely anyone at the bar now or ever.

That plea deal is going to start looking better and better to Edwards.  Don’t be surprised if Edwards changes his mind and takes the misdemeanors and a few months at Club Fed in the near-to-mid future.

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But did he send “junk mail” like Anthony Wiener?

carbon_footprint on June 7, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Should have taken the plea deal, moron.

teke184 on June 7, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Will he be able to share a hairdryer with Blago? Are they allowed at Club Fed?

Knucklehead on June 7, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Edwards is slimier than a snail trail left on a sidewalk. He should take the plea deal strictly on the basis that it is going to cost taxpayers millions to prosecute his sorry rear end.

pilamaye on June 7, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Plea deals are for the little people!

search4truth on June 7, 2011 at 11:25 AM

The Democrats actually nominated this scum to be their Vice Presidential candidate in 2004.

They must be very proud of him.

Del Dolemonte on June 7, 2011 at 11:26 AM

There’s some schadenfreude in seeing an ambulance-chasing trial lawyer like Edwards on the other end of the rotisserie. I’ll bet all the doctors and hospitals he sued are enjoying the karma.

VastRightWingConspirator on June 7, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Will he be able to share a hairdryer with Blago? Are they allowed at Club Fed?

Knucklehead on June 7, 2011 at 11:23 AM

“Hey, Blago. Would you mind helping me with the wind-blown distress look I need?”

“Sure, Silky. Anything for you!”

upinak on June 7, 2011 at 11:28 AM

The Democrats actually nominated this scum to be their Vice Presidential candidate in 2004.

They must be very proud of him.

Del Dolemonte on June 7, 2011 at 11:26 AM

And many voted again for him for President in the 2008 primary.

Missy on June 7, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Don’t be surprised if Edwards changes his mind and takes the misdemeanors and a few months at Club Fed in the near-to-mid future.

That offer may well have expired when the judge banged the gavel. Most deals like that are withdrawn once the trial starts, as one of the main purposes of a deal is to avoid the expense and hassle of a trial.

novaculus on June 7, 2011 at 11:31 AM

The Democrats actually nominated this scum to be their Vice Presidential candidate in 2004.

Well, the Dems nominated a shameless serial liar for President, so Edwards probably was anxious to show that he had what it takes to step into the job.

drunyan8315 on June 7, 2011 at 11:32 AM

I’m just waiting for Edwards to channel the spirit of Elizabeth after he fires his own attorneys so he can make the closing statement to the jury at the trial, telling them his late wife believes in forgiveness and wouldn’t want them to convict John.

jon1979 on June 7, 2011 at 11:33 AM

He could have fessed up to his wife and used his own money to hide her away.

Blake on June 7, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Will Edwards be channeling the thoughts and needs of baby Frances on the stand?

Fallon on June 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM

He’s way too arrogant to take a plea.

rcpjr on June 7, 2011 at 11:41 AM

What a bum, that he relied on wealthy “donors” to pay off his baby mama. He was wealthy, he should have at least paid for his own baby.

mbs on June 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Dear John,

We’re looking forward to meeting you.

Sincerely,

The Inmates at Club Fed

either orr on June 7, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Whoops.

Here’s the proper message:

Dear John,
We’re looking forward to meeting you.
Sincerely,
The Inmates at Club Fed
[Attachment: Weiner1, Weiner2, Weiner3, etc.]

either orr on June 7, 2011 at 11:47 AM

After having a long discussion about politics…Bubba makes John his woman…

PatriotRider on June 7, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Don’t be surprised if Edwards changes his mind and takes the misdemeanors and a few months at Club Fed in the near-to-mid future.

he needs to go to federal-pound-him-in-the-ass prison…

ted c on June 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Dear John,

We’re looking forward to meeting you.

Sincerely,

The Inmates at Club Fed

either orr on June 7, 2011 at 11:46 AM

P.S.
Please bring your own lube…we are running low.

right2bright on June 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Let’s not forget Edwards was trained as an attorney.

He knows all the trick about picking the right jury. He’s going to do his best for a miss-trial, jury deadlock.

Sir Napsalot on June 7, 2011 at 11:58 AM

This guy was stalking the White House….once as VP and again when he ran for President. Why is it never mentioned that he came as close as he did. With apparently no vetting from conventional press? We really are scrapping the bottom of the barrel in this country.

People get the government they deserve, Thomas Jefferson.

I really don’t think we did anything to invite the likes of John Edwards to prey on U.S. To call our political class, sloppy and classes is a very big understate. This country doesn’t have any moral standards left?

Dr Evil on June 7, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Where is his mug shot? I know he raced to avoid the perp walk. But the man was indicted for a crime.

Marcus on June 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Staying classy.

Aronne on June 7, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Prosecutors must prove the 2004 DEMOCRATIC vice presidential nominee

Hey, but who’s counting?

mankai on June 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM

That plea deal is going to start looking better and better to Edwards. Don’t be surprised if Edwards changes his mind and takes the misdemeanors and a few months at Club Fed in the near-to-mid future.

Why does Fluffy even get a second chance at a plea bargain? I always thought it was a one-shot, take-it-or-leave-it, time sensitive offer. Personally, I hope the guy shares a cell with someone who just loves silky locks.

DuctTapeMyBrain on June 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Dear John,

We’re looking forward to meeting you.

Sincerely,

The Inmates at Club Fed

either orr on June 7, 2011 at 11:46 AM

.
p.s.
Lay off the haircuts and let those silky locks grow out.
A lot.

mrt721 on June 7, 2011 at 12:23 PM

This guy is sad. I feel about the same for him as a I do Mr. Weiner. I don’t have sympathy for him as a politician, but I hate to see anybody broken by sin. I wrote about Weiner yesterday: Jesus Loves Anthony Weiner

poorrichardsnews on June 7, 2011 at 12:43 PM

30 comments or bust!

fossten on June 7, 2011 at 1:21 PM

He should take the plea deal strictly on the basis that it is going to cost taxpayers millions to prosecute his sorry rear end.

pilamaye on June 7, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Ok! I’m a dumb a$$. Why does it cost millions? The DOJ lawyers get paid a salary no matter ehat their doing. What else is the money spent on and why millions?

Vince on June 7, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Dear John,

We’re looking forward to meeting you.

Sincerely,

The Inmates at Club Fed

either orr on June 7, 2011 at 11:46 AM

From what i understand, the inmates at Club Fed aren’t like what you are insinuating. They play tennis, read, get conjugal visits etc….

Vince on June 7, 2011 at 1:43 PM

ehat their doing.
Vince on June 7, 2011 at 1:38 PM

what they’re doing.
FIFM

Vince on June 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Ok! I’m a dumb a$$. Why does it cost millions? The DOJ lawyers get paid a salary no matter ehat their doing. What else is the money spent on and why millions?

Vince on June 7, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Think of it as opportunity cost. If he didn’t do the deed, the court’s time would have been spent on other criminals, so his self-insertion into the justice process has added to the already enormous cost of prosecuting criminals.

fossten on June 7, 2011 at 2:09 PM

That’s what rubs me the wrong way. With Clinton Wiener and pony, it’s the freaking lying. Caught red handed they look you in the eye and accuse you and everyone else of being out to get them. Just say all teary eyed ” I have sinned, I have problems and my family and I have some issues to work out”. Might get you some sympathy.

Greed on June 7, 2011 at 5:09 PM