Video: Former Dem VP candidate goes on trial today

posted at 12:41 pm on April 23, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Eight years ago, he ran on the Democratic ticket for the second-highest political office in the country.  Four years ago, he vied for the nomination in a tough three-way race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Today, John Edwards begins another battle — to stay out of federal prison.  Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison on six felony and misdemeanor charges related to campaign-finance fraud and the cover-up of his affair with Rielle Hunter and their child together:

Among other things, the government alleges that Edwards “knowingly and willfully” received nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to hide his pregnant mistress from the public so he could continue his presidential bid. Edwards acknowledges that while his actions were wrong, they were not illegal. He could face up to 30 years in prison. …

At the heart of the government’s case is campaign finance law, specifically whether Edwards violated the Election Act. Established in 1971, the Election Act states that to restrict the influence that any one person can have on the outcome of a primary election for president, the most any individual could contribute to any candidate for that primary election is $2,300.

Prosecutors will argue that Edwards accepted and received contributions from Mellon and Baron in excess of the limits of the Election Act. Court documents detail that Edwards accepted about $725,000 from Mellon and more than $200,000 from Baron. These unlawful contributions were then used to pay for Hunter’s living and medical expenses and to pay for travel and accommodations to keep Hunter from the news media.

Additionally, prosecutors say Edwards concealed from the FEC and the public the contributions by filing false and misleading campaign finance reports.

Court documents conclude, “Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and pregnancy would destroy his candidacy and undermine Edwards’ presentation of himself as a family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to the criticism and the media scrutiny regarding the affair.”

His defense, CNN reports, will rely on hiding behind the skirts of his now-dead wife Elizabeth. Edwards will claim that the money from Mellon and Baron was intended to protect Elizabeth, not himself, as well as the rest of his family.  Good luck selling that to a jury.  Edwards will also claim that he didn’t know that he was breaking the law and never intended to do so, a claim that tests the credibility of every defendant — and one would presume especially those who also happen to be multi-millionaire trial attorneys.

Politico handicaps the trial with six key points to watch.  The first is connections to the “Obama world,” and at least one high-ranking official from the Obama 2012 campaign is expected to testify in defense of Edwards:

A deputy campaign manager for Obama’s reelection bid, Julianna Smoot, is listed as a defense witness. Smoot spent most of last year as White House social secretary before going to the campaign. She was finance director on Edwards’s 1998 Senate bid and on Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.

While not every listed witness may be called, other administration officials on the roster include Mark Kornblau, communications director for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York and traveling press secretary for Edwards’s 2008 campaign; Sam Myers Sr., trip director for Vice President Joe Biden and an advance staffer for Edwards; and Sam Myers Jr., an Education Department aide who also worked advance for Edwards in ’08.

Former Obama White House aides David Medina and Christina Reynolds are also on the list.

That’s not exactly the kind of buzz an incumbent needs, especially one who campaigned on the promise to end corruption in Washington. Thanks to the high profile of the defendant and the salacious nature of the circumstances, the media will be all over this trial, with updates and analysis.  That will not only reflect poorly on Democrats in general, it’s likely to distract from Team Obama’s efforts to win the daily narrative in the media.

Politico also warns that the outcome might be “less than clear.”  Given the intricate nature of the campaign finance laws in question, it’s a good bet that Edwards might beat a few of the counts.  He’d better hope that the judge tosses the counts rather than rely on the jury to acquit, though, because the circumstances of the affair won’t make Edwards terribly sympathetic to any panel of jurors.


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Ladies, avoid pretty men!

StevC on April 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Well, as pointed out in the headlines above: an (R) by his name and this leads the news, the biggest political trial since Watergate.

Marcus on April 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM

The guy won’t see one damn day in prison.

catmman on April 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Add one more name to the list of pardons Obama will issue on his way out the door this January.

Roy Rogers on April 23, 2012 at 12:48 PM

…the media will be all over this trial, with updates and analysis.

Really?

ss396 on April 23, 2012 at 12:48 PM

B-b-b-but Tina Fey said Sarah Palin could see Russia from her house!

Punch Rockgroin on April 23, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Well, as pointed out in the headlines above: an (R) by his name and this leads the news, the biggest political trial since Watergate.

Marcus on April 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Amen. The bias; incredible sometimes.

thebrokenrattle on April 23, 2012 at 12:49 PM

He’ll get off. Pun intended. ;-)

totherightofthem on April 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM

4 years ago, CNN had Edwards’ Favorability at 59%. That’s all you need to know about their “polls”; no other results from other outlets ever had him that high.

Del Dolemonte on April 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Edwards: Disgusting, immoral piece of filth. In short, a typical Democrat.

swinia sutki on April 23, 2012 at 12:51 PM

John Edwards is the poster child for both democrat “morality” and the need for tort reform. May he get raped in prison.

wildcat72 on April 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Getting a little bit closer to the President and his staff.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57418600/secret-service-scandal-spreads-to-second-hotel/

and even being reported on CBS.

PappyD61 on April 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM

…..speaking of scandals. :-)

PappyD61 on April 23, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I read some article about how hard it was for Edwards being in the house alone with nothing but memories of Liz. Yeah, right. lol

Blake on April 23, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Recent comments by this despicable clump of snot about how others have gotten away with acting like pigs, so he should be given the same break, only indicates he is an unrepentant prick that deserves all the misery we can possibly dump on him.

NotCoach on April 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Haircut isn’t going to do a day in prison.

He is not Blago, he is the silky pony.

Silky ponies never go to the glue factory.

CorporatePiggy on April 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Liz would have looked the other way if he had just used his own millions to buy the ho off. She was just as ambitious as he was to get into the WH.

Blake on April 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Thank God I became a Republican before I had the chance to vote for this loser.

aunursa on April 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM

If the glove don’t fit……

a capella on April 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Silky ponies never go to the glue factory.

CorporatePiggy on April 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

No, they get made into dog food.

Who eats dog food? Dogs.

Who eats dogs? Obama!

Blake on April 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM

John Edwards is the poster child for both democrat “morality” and the need for tort reform. May he get raped in prison.

wildcat72 on April 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM

…like catmman said…he won’t see a day of prison…m o n e y!

KOOLAID2 on April 23, 2012 at 12:57 PM

“John Edwards is a typical Democrat who, , uh, if he sees some woman on the street that he doesn’t know there’s a reaction that’s been been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way and that’s just the nature of sex in our society…”

/ paraphrasing of course.

Logus on April 23, 2012 at 12:57 PM

c-BS polled on him for some reason and his favorables are only 3%, about what Obama’s would be in a sane world.

gsherin on April 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Another regular democrat from North Carolina. Any wonder they don’t want voter ID laws there?

SouthernGent on April 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM

CorporatePiggy on April 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

That’s what Edwin Edwards thought too until something finally stuck and he couldn’t squirm free.

Being a presidential candidate and uber-wealthy doesn’t mean you won’t see time.

Logus on April 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

It’s all about sex so who cares, right?

Look, Romney’s dog!!!11!!!eleventy!!!

jnelchef on April 23, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Logus on April 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

You could be right.

What might do him in is the fact that he could have bankrolled this caper personally.

CorporatePiggy on April 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Silky Pony meets da judge!

(BTW….Obama ate a dog.)

Tim_CA on April 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM

John Edwards would be the POTUS right now if the Kos kids had gotten their way.

Moesart on April 23, 2012 at 1:07 PM

He is not Blago, he is the silky pony.

CorporatePiggy on April 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Ah, true justice would be Edwards having to share a cell and listen to Blago talk all day long, lol. The only reason they wouldn’t do it is because of the added expense of clearing the shower drains of hair… I know, ick.

Fallon on April 23, 2012 at 1:07 PM

CorporatePiggy on April 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Well… Democrats, sin, other people’s money and all that…

Logus on April 23, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Thank you National Enquirer!

For reporting the political story of 2008 that the NYT, WaPo, LAT, CBS,NBC,ABC and on and on somehow manged to miss…

Bruno Strozek on April 23, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Hang him as a lesson to the others.

But do allow him one last $400 hair cutstyling. Y’know, as a mercy.

Jeddite on April 23, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Silky ponies never go to the glue factory.

CorporatePiggy on April 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

hahaha. I hope Edwards’ cell mate thinks he is cute.

SparkPlug on April 23, 2012 at 1:10 PM

I love it when the media says this scum bag predatory litigation mercenary, earned his millions.

Speakup on April 23, 2012 at 1:11 PM

The HA headlines had a thread today that the NYT is ‘balanced’.

Schadenfreude on April 23, 2012 at 1:16 PM

That will not only reflect poorly on Democrats in general, it’s likely to distract from Team Obama’s efforts to win the daily narrative in the media.

Reflect poorly on the Democrats who are already being led by
Zulu Shabazz and FaraKhan and Al Charlatan ? If that doesn’t reflect poorly on Democrats, nothing else will.
And about that Obama winning the daily narrative in the media, we are talking about the same media which is not even covering the Fast and Furious and MF Global scandals , right ?
The way things are in the regime today,
if Hussein appoints Edwards as his Chief of Staff, no one in the media and his base have a problem . Infact they will praise Hussein and Edwards for their looks and intellect and awesomeness.

burrata on April 23, 2012 at 1:16 PM

hope he goes to federal pound him in the a** prison….

ted c on April 23, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Silky Pony will make somebody one heckuva girlfriend, unless he gets sent to one of the “Country Club” federal lock-ups.

hillbillyjim on April 23, 2012 at 1:19 PM

hope he goes to federal pound him in the a** prison….

ted c on April 23, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Take that lovely hair…..then add a brazillian wax?

He’ll be the village bicycle.

Tim_CA on April 23, 2012 at 1:21 PM

I really want to know who the 3% are who still give this despicable POS a favorable rating?

Can you be that dumb and still wear clothes?

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on April 23, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Is the National Enquirer considered part of the MSM?They seem to be the only print media doing the job.

docflash on April 23, 2012 at 1:28 PM

What would have happened if the media had reported on what was going on with John Edwards during the 2008 democrat primary?

The media has been derelict. I think CNN is rooting for John Edwards, just going by their coverage today – just because it reflects so badly on their coverage of John Edwards 2008 primary campaign.

Dr Evil on April 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

The NYTimes smeared McCain with a totally fake story about an affair and let Edwards slide.

Actually it is unclear that Edwards broke the law. He never received the money in question and the donors did not claim any deduction. If he is found guilty of the core charge, I suspect the law will be challenged. That being said, the donors likely violated the tax laws regarding gifting.

pat on April 23, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Obligatory “John Edwards Prepares For His Day In Court”

eeyore on April 23, 2012 at 1:59 PM

I really want to know who the 3% are who still give this despicable POS a favorable rating?

Can you be that dumb and still wear clothes?

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on April 23, 2012 at 1:28 PM

I saw a couple the other day – both had their laces untied. Other than that, they were very tidy looking. Not sure if they were registered voters.

bbhack on April 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Shave his head, lock him up.

minnesoter on April 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM

How irresponsible of the Dems! What poor judgment!! This man could have been One Heartbeat Away (TM) from the presidency!!!

DavidW on April 23, 2012 at 3:37 PM

He won’t see a single solitary day in prison.

FlatFoot on April 23, 2012 at 3:50 PM

B-b-b-but Tina Fey said Sarah Palin could see Russia from her house!

Punch Rockgroin on April 23, 2012 at 12:48 PM

ive seen tina in a few shows and movies, gotta say she is way overated. That palin shtik is the only thing she does well.

Greed on April 23, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Look, I’ll be the first to admit my astonishment if Silky is convicted. However, let’s be real: The Feds have a very novel and unsound case. The Feds reportedly offered Silky the chance to plead to a single misdemeanor count(he would not lose his law license) and he elected to roll the dice with a jury trial.

You might as well give up on any dreams of Silky spending any time behind actual bars. Upon conviction, the most he is likely to get is less than ten years, qualifying him to spend his days in a Federal Minimum Security Camp like the one at Butner, North Carolina.

BigAlSouth on April 23, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Butner?! BWAAAAHAHAHA…..

OlympicLeprechaun on April 23, 2012 at 7:07 PM

Silky pony is going to be passed around for a pack of cigarettes. He is going to be everybody’s favorite! Everyone loves silky pony rides!

DuctTapeMyBrain on April 23, 2012 at 8:01 PM

hahaha. I hope Edwards’ cell mate thinks he is cute.

SparkPlug on April 23, 2012 at 1:10 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NTk5iZHjfQ

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on April 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

I love the delicious irony of this. He is being prosecuted under a law, enacted by the Democrats who were intent on making it nigh unto impossible for Republicans to wage a campaign without violating the law. The Dems had the unions in their back pockets and other ways of getting campaign money not available to the Republicans, so the election laws were a handicapping activity to favor Dems.

You know what they say about Karma.

AZfederalist on April 23, 2012 at 10:16 PM