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Entries in John Edwards (74)

Wednesday
May162012

John Edwards Defense Dealt a Blow By Judge's Ruling

Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards rested his case Wednesday, but his defense was dealt a blow when the federal judge said she will set a lower bar than Edwards' legal team had sought for convicting the former presidential candidate of violating the federal campaign finance law.

The judge's decision about how she will instruct the jury came just hours after Edwards' lawyers ended their case, not with the bang of the candidate and his mistress testifying, but with a series of bank statements, phone records and Federal Election Commission memos and a final shot at the credibility of Edwards' chief accuser.

Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy backers Fred Baron and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to keep his affair with mistress Rielle Hunter secret in order to protect his presidential ambitions and later his hopes of winning a spot as vice president or attorney general. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Edwards' lawyers hoped the case would rest in part on Judge Catherine Eagles' interpretation of the word "the." The statute governing illegal receipt of campaign contributions "means any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money... for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office." The words "the purpose" suggests that in order for a conviction, the sole reason for the money would have to be to finance a presidential campaign.

Edwards' legal team argued that his main reason for hiding his mistress was to keep the secret from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of breast cancer. The judge, however, decided the government will not have to prove that the sole and only purpose of the hush money was to influence the election. It could be to keep it from his wife and to influence his political chances.

Closing arguments are set to begin Thursday morning and Edwards' lawyers will likely use them to take aim at the credibility of Edwards' primary accuser, Andrew Young.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

John Edwards Rests His Case Without Mistress' Testimony

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards' lawyers abruptly ended his defense Wednesday without hearing from the former presidential candidate or the mistress with whom he carried on an affair.

Lawyers for Edwards ended their case with a series of bank statements, phone records and Federal Election Commission memos and a final shot against the credibility of Edwards' primary accuser, Andrew Young.

Edwards' attorney Abbe Lowell reminded the jury that Young and his wife Cheri considered selling a sex tape they found that had been made by Edwards and his mistress Rielle Hunter.

They "had in their possession a private video of Rielle Hunter and John Edwards. They considered selling the private video," Lowell read into the court record.

Lowell had to be asked by the court to also read the part of the statement that said the Youngs "did not sell" the tape.

Introducing the Youngs' talk of selling the sex tape was apparently meant to leave the jury with the impression that Young, who is key to the prosecution's case, was not a credible person.

The courtroom had been braced for blockbuster testimony from Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter, Edwards's daughter Cate, or Edwards himself.

All three were on a list of possible witnesses for Wednesday, but the defense rested without calling any of them.

The evidence presented by the defense contrasts starkly with the dramatic and often emotional testimony of presented by the prosecution detailing Edwards' attempt to keep his affair and the birth of their baby a secret, huge amounts of money spent to keep the secret hidden, his distraught wife's discovery of the continuing affair, and the unhappy last days of Elizabeth Edwards.

The prosecution called no rebuttal witnesses, setting the stage for lawyers to make their closing arguments beginning Thursday.

Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy backers Fred Baron and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to keep his affair secret to protect his presidential ambitions and later his hopes of winning a spot as vice president or attorney general.

The nearly $1 million in donations used to hide Edwards' mistress and love child were not campaign contributions, the Federal Election Commission concluded, according to documents his defense team filed late Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

John Edwards Trial Gets Documents While Awaiting Rielle Hunter

Sara D. Davis/Getty ImagesUPDATE: John Edwards' defense team has rested its case.  Neither Edwards, his mistress Rielle Hunter, nor his daughter Cate were called up to testify.

Closing arguments are set to begin on Thursday.

(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The nearly $1 million in donations used to hide John Edwards' mistress and love child were not campaign contributions, the Federal Election Commission concluded, according to documents filed in Edwards' trial.

The FEC audit of Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign was submitted to the court by Edwards' defense team on Tuesday.

Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy backers Fred Baron and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to keep his affair secret to protect his presidential ambitions and later his hopes of winning a spot as vice president or attorney general.

Edwards' lawyers are asking the judge to admit an audio recording of the July 2011 FEC meeting when the audit was closed. 

Defense lawyers say the recording shows Commissioner Donald McGahn stating, "It's odd for me to say that the transaction is a campaign transaction" and "I'm not sure that [the monies paid by Mellon and Baron are] a reportable. Actually I can say [the monies are] not a report, in my view, not reportable."

The commission voted unanimously to close the audit.

One of those commissioners, Scott Thomas, was on the witness stand at Edwards' trial Tuesday morning.  However, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles would not allow Thomas to tell jurors his view on how the law applied to what Edwards' allegedly did in 2007 and 2008.  Eagles has said the jury should decide, without guidance from experts, what the purpose of the gifts were.

Attention in the courtroom on Wednesday, however, will not be on documents.  Observers will be holding their breath to see if Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter, or even John Edwards himself, takes the stand.

Both are on the defense team's list of possible witnesses for Wednesday, although experts are skeptical that Edwards' lawyers are willing to put the unpredictable Hunter on the stand or would allow Edwards to be subjected to cross examination by prosecutors.

One person likely to take the stand before the defense wraps up its case this week is Edwards' daughter Cate.

Cate Edwards, 30, has sat behind her father through almost every day of testimony leaving only when a witness described her mother Elizabeth's emotional anguish at discovering Edwards' illicit affair and illegitimate child.

Cate may corroborate her father's story that the financial donations were meant as gifts to enable Edwards to hide the affair from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

John Edwards, Mistress and Daughter May Testify in Trial

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards and his mistress Rielle Hunter might both be called to the witness stand Wednesday, delivering explosive back-to-back testimony and concluding nearly a month of court proceedings that have laid bare the steamy details of their affair and the trail of money used to cover it up.

Additionally, Edwards lawyers said Tuesday, they potentially will call Edwards' adult daughter Cate Edwards as well as Andrew Young, once Edwards' most trusted aide who helped hide Edwards' affair and even claimed paternity of his love child.

Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations to hide Hunter and later their baby daughter during his quest for the 2008 presidential nomination. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Edwards' defense team submitted the potential witness lineup at the end of proceedings Tuesday. It could be a blockbuster finish to a trial that has proceeded more like a Shakespearian tragedy than a hearing on campaign finances.

It is uncertain whether John Edwards will testify because that would open him up to a withering cross-examination by prosecutors, and it has already been established that Edwards lied at different times about much of the case, including about fathering Hunter's child.

An even greater unknown is Hunter. Since conducting a handful of interviews in 2010, Hunter has remained largely unseen and unheard. The current status of her relationship with Edwards remains unknown.

Hunter was listed as a potential prosecution witness as well, but the government never called her to the stand in three weeks of arguments. Though she is at the center of the scandal, lawyers for both sides may be too nervous to call her, unaware of just exactly what she might say.

Listing Edwards and Hunter on their witness list may just be an effort by the defense to keep the prosecution off-balance.

Cate Edwards, 30, was listed as a potential witness Tuesday, but did not testify. Of the three, she is most likely to take the stand. A lawyer herself, she has sat behind her father through almost every day of testimony, leaving only when a witness described her mother Elizabeth's emotional anguish at discovering Edwards' illicit affair and illegitimate child.

Cate may corroborate her father's story that the financial donations were meant as gifts to Edwards, enabling him to hide the affair from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer. But her potential testimony will be a tightrope for her because she does not want to hurt either parent, says a reporter with sources close to the Edwards family.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

John Edwards' Daughter Cate to Testify He Loved His Wife

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The most difficult testimony John Edwards may have to endure in his trial is scheduled for Tuesday, when his daughter Cate is expected to take the stand and tell the court how much her father loved her mother.

Cate Edwards, 30, has been Edwards' most visible supporter throughout the month-long trial, but even she left his side when the testimony has concentrated on the hurt that her father's affair caused her mother.

John Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter, and later their baby daughter, during his quest for the 2008 presidential nomination.  If convicted, he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Edwards' defense team has argued that the money was not intended for his political campaign, but meant to hide his affair from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.  Testimony on Monday depicted Elizabeth Edwards as a woman with a "volcanic" temper who feared humiliation for herself and her children because of her husband's infidelity.

Cate Edwards will be expected to corroborate her father's version of events.

"I think we will expect to hear more details from Cate how he loved Elizabeth, how he tended to her in her final days," Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, the Washington bureau chief for People magazine and someone close to the Edwards family, told ABC News.  "You will hear more about that that was his primary concern in hiding the affair, protecting his family."

"Cate told me not too long ago, I'm the child of two parents... And she is going to stick by him.  She said that is what families do.  She believes he committed no crime," Westfall said.

Westfall noted that Cate Edwards, who is a lawyer, was recently married and lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband.  But she has returned to North Carolina for her father.

"She's a newlywed, and her husband lives in D.C. full time.  Cate has packed up her life and went to down Chapel Hill to help her dad out with her two younger siblings.  She is really kind of head of the family right now, taking her mother's place, coordinating the kids' schedules.  And she is working it out with her dad.  They are very close still, you know," Westfall said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

John Edwards Feared Wife's 'Volcanic' Reaction to Affair

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- When Elizabeth Edwards first learned of a National Enquirer expose revealing her husband's affair, her reaction was "volcanic" and she fretted that John Edwards' infidelities would "humiliate" her and end his campaign, a campaign pollster testified Monday.

Veteran Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman testified on the first day of Edwards' defense and described a candidate who feared his wife's temper, particularly over his affair with his mistress Rielle Hunter.

"I don't mean to say this in a disparaging way. It was volcanic....She could get upset about things, but she was really upset about this," Hickman told the court.

Edwards' lawyers claim the former senator used money received from wealthy donors to hide his affair from his wife, not to circumvent federal campaign finance laws.

"She kept saying I don't want to be humiliated. I don't want my kids to have to deal with this," Hickman remembered Elizabeth Edwards saying.

Hickman, who advised Edwards that his 2008 presidential hopes were doomed, said Edwards "did everything he could to placate Mrs. Edwards....He acquiesced to Elizabeth Edwards making decisions....She took the lead and he deferred to her."

Mrs. Edwards did not want her husband to drop out of the race for the presidency, Hickman testified, even when she got a diagnosis that her breast cancer had returned and it was terminal.

"She said she didn't want to sit home and die. She wanted her life to have a purpose....She wanted to keep it going and get him elected president," Hickman told the jury.

Elizabeth Edwards died in December 2010. She slowly learned about her husband's affair with Hunter in 2007 and became increasingly upset about each new revelation, witnesses said, once becoming so distraught she tore her blouse off on an airport tarmac and collapsed on the ground.

Edwards is charged with six counts of campaign finance violations, allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations to protect his bid for the 2008 presidential nomination and later his hopes to be named vice president or attorney general. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

John Edwards' Hush Money Was Not Illegal, FEC Told Campaign

SKETCH BY CHRISTINE CORNELL(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- After John Edwards was indicted, Federal Election Commission auditors determined that the hush money he received from wealthy donors to cover up a torrid affair did not need to be reported in the campaign's financial disclosure reports, his campaign's chief financial officer testified Monday.

After three weeks of salacious testimony about Edwards' affair with mistress Rielle Hunter and the nearly $1 million collected to keep it quiet, Edwards' lawyers kicked off their defense focusing on the much less steamy intricacies of campaign finance law.

After reviewing the campaign's financials for four years, the FEC determined last month that money Edwards' aides collected from wealthy donors Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Fred Baron were "not campaign contribution[s]," Lora Haggard, Edwards' 2008 chief financial officer, said Monday.

Edwards is charged with six counts of campaign finance violations, allegedly using the money to protect his bid for the 2008 presidential nomination and later his hopes to be named vice president or attorney general. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Much of Haggard's testimony took place while the jury was outside the courtroom as federal Judge Catherine C. Eagles determined if her testimony would be admissible.

While the FEC may have one idea about the legality of the contributions, the prosecution clearly has another.

"What the FEC ruled is not relevant," said prosecutor Jeffrey Tsai. "Whatever the FEC determined is not relevant to the criminal charges."

Edwards' defense team insists the money from Mellon and Baron was never intended as political contributions, but were personal gifts to keep his wife from finding out and to provide for his illegitimate daughter.

Haggard said Edwards was not involved in the way records were filed with the FEC and gave no instructions to keep donations secret.

She said Edwards did "nothing" to influence the way she filed reports with the FEC.

The defense initially planned to call former FEC chairman Scott Thomas as their first witness Monday. Prosecutors objected to his testimony, and Eagles said she would rule on whether he would be allowed to testify.

Edwards defense hinges on how broadly the judge will interpret federal election law, even down to the word "the."

The statute governing illegal receipt of campaign contributions "means any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money... for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office."

The words "the purpose" suggests that in order for a conviction, the sole reason for the money would have to be to finance a presidential campaign.

Edwards' legal team has argued he did not know it might be illegal, did not intend to break the law and that his main reason for hiding Hunter was to keep her secret from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of breast cancer.

Prosecutors, however, are arguing the law should be interpreted to mean "a purpose," meaning use of the donations does not have to be solely for a political campaign.

Edwards' lawyer Abbe Lowell has argued that prosecutors are asking the jury to "invent a new crime" with its interpretation of the law.

The defense is also expected to go after the prosecution's key witness Andrew Young, a former Edwards' aide who helped hide Hunter, going on the road with her to keep her away from the press, even claiming paternity for his boss.

Edwards defense has argued that much of the money was solicited by Young and he used the scandal to enrich himself.

It's not yet known whether Edwards will take the stand in his own defense.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

John Edwards' Defense Lawyers to Start Making Their Case

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards' defense team will begin making their case in a North Carolina courtroom on Monday, trying to prove that the former presidential candidate did not break any campaign finance laws when he accepted money to cover up an affair.

Edwards is accused of using nearly $1 million from wealthy donors to hide his affair with mistress Rielle Hunter and to keep secret that she gave birth to his baby during his bid for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Edwards, however, contends the donations were personal gifts meant to be used at his discretion, including keeping the affair a secret from his wife Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.

The prosecution wrapped its case on Thursday after 14 days of testimony.

Edwards is charged with six counts of violating the federal campaign finance law, and could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines if convicted.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May112012

John Edwards Judge Refuses to Dismiss Case

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- A federal judge Friday rejected defense lawyers' arguments that the case against John Edwards should be thrown out because there "was not one ounce of evidence" that the former presidential candidate broke the law by using nearly $1 million in donations to hide his mistress.

Instead, Edwards' lawyer Abbe Lowell said the disgraced former senator was simply trying to "extricate his family from indignity."

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles ruled that the case would continue, ordering the defense to ready witnesses for testimony on Monday.

The judge did not buy Edwards' lawyers argument that the case should be dismissed because the government failed to "prove beyond a reasonable doubt... that Edwards with knowledge... violated campaign finance laws."

Edwards is accused of using nearly $1 million from wealthy donors to hide his affair with mistress Rielle Hunter and to keep secret that she gave birth to his baby during his bid for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Edwards, however, contends the donations were personal gifts meant to be used at his discretion, including keeping the affair a secret from his wife.

The prosecution wrapped its case on Thursday after 14 days of testimony. Edwards is charged with six counts of violating the federal campaign finance law. He could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

John Edwards Prosecution Uses ‘Nightline’ Interview in Court

Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The last thing jurors in the John Edwards trial saw Thursday before the prosecution rested was video from a Nightline interview that shows Edwards lying.

As the prosecution wrapped up its case, the state used the last 15 minutes or so to play most of ABC’s Bob Woodruff’s interview with Edwards, in which the former presidential hopeful admitted to having an affair with Rielle Hunter. The interview, which originally aired on Nightline in August 2008, was the first time Edwards publicly admitted that Hunter was his mistress, but denied fathering her child.

Edwards was in the courtroom, watching himself on the video as it played. At times, Edwards looked down or put his head in his hands.

Watch part 1 of the 2008 Nightline interview:

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And part 2:

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Edwards is accused of illegally using campaign funds to hide Hunter and the baby. He claims any money he received to hide Hunter was a personal gift and he was motivated only to keep the affair and his daughter with Hunter a secret from his wife, not the government.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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