Looks like there will soon be two Americas for John Edwards — the one inside a courtroom, and the one outside of it. ABC News reported overnight that the Department of Justice has approved the prosecution of former Senator John Edwards, who once ran on the Democratic ticket for Vice President. The DoJ will seek an indictment on corruption charges related to the use of campaign funds for personal purposes in order to keep his affair quiet:
Edwards might be thinking about cutting a deal:
The United States Department of Justice has green-lighted the prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards for alleged violations of campaign laws while he tried to cover up an extra-marital affair, ABC News has learned.
A source close to the case said Edwards is aware that the government intends to seek an indictment and that the former senator from North Carolina is now considering his limited options. He could accept a plea bargain with prosecutors or face a potentially costly trial.
Bet on the plea bargain. Edwards has been in court enough to know what a mountain of evidence means to an unsympathetic defendant, and Edwards is about as unsympathetic as it gets. A rich lawyer cheats on his dying wife, gets his girlfriend pregnant, and then moves cash all over the board to keep it quiet — what is there for a jury to like?
Don’t expect the Department of Justice to offer anything easy, however. I’m a little surprised they decided to pursue this; let’s not forget that Edwards would probably have been the Attorney General had this affair never come to light. But now that they have, they can’t afford to be seen as going easy on a one-time political ally of the President (Edwards endorsed Obama in the primaries after withdrawing). Edwards will end up doing some jail time in any plea bargain, even if it is at Club Fed, and pay a lot of money in fines. He’ll get disbarred in all likelihood, meaning that he won’t earn a living at the other end of this tunnel, either. Unlike Richard Nixon, he wasn’t important enough to rehabilitate in politics.
I’m guessing Edwards cuts a deal for a minimum-security federal facility for no more than two years, and gets out in 18 months with at least some of his fortune intact.
Update: Aaron Worthing disagrees with my prediction and says Edwards’ ego won’t allow him to bargain for a reduced sentence. We’ll see, but you’d be surprised what looking at more than a decade in prison will do for one’s sense of self-preservation.