Feds Green-Light Prosecution of John Edwards

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- 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.

Edwards has been the focus of a lengthy federal investigation focusing on hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly provided by two wealthy supporters. The government will contend those were illegal donations that ultimately went to support and seclude his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Hunter was a campaign videographer with whom Edwards had a lengthy affair that resulted in a daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, now three years old.

If the case were to proceed to trial, legal experts said, the government would have to prove that the intent of the donations was to cover-up the affair so that Edwards could continue his pursuit of the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.

The government's case against Edwards is expected to rely heavily on Andrew Young, a former close aide to Edwards who falsely claimed paternity of Hunter's child three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Young testified before a grand jury for nine hours in 2009, and also wrote a tell-all book that alleged Edwards was the mastermind of a well-funded, well-orchestrated plan to keep the affair from becoming public.

Edwards acknowledged paternity of the child last year, but has steadfastly maintained that he has broken no laws.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Documentary Due Out in June

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASILA, Alaska) -- Sarah Palin -- movie star?

It's a title the former Alaska governor may soon take on. Palin aide Tim Crawford confirmed to ABC News Tuesday that a documentary about Palin's governorship exists, and she "loves it."

The documentary, titled The Undefeated, was first reported Tuesday by the blog Real Clear Politics. According to the site, after November's mid-term elections, Palin and aide Rebecca Mansour (the same aide whose incendiary Twitter messages were leaked via The Daily Caller Tuesday) hatched a plan to get conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon to make a series of videos championing Palin's two-and-a-half years as governor of Alaska and dismissing questions about why she resigned from office in July 2009.

Real Clear Politics reports that Bannon took "complete control" of the project and put $1 million of his own money behind it. He ended up with a "two-hour-long, sweeping epic" that will premiere in Iowa in June.

According to Real Clear Politics, Bannon screened the film for Palin and her husband last Wednesday in Arizona, where Palin's rumored to have bought a house.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


After Latest Round of Deficit Talks, Biden Says New Tax Revenues Are a Must

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday emerged from the latest round of deficit talks with the bipartisan group of lawmakers from each of the four caucuses in Congress to say that new tax revenues need to be part of any eventual deal to raise the debt ceiling.

“We’re confident that if we keep on this pace we can get to a relatively large number. We discussed -- I made it clear today revenues are going to have to be in the deal and everybody knows that at the end of the day we’re going to have to make some really tough decisions on some of the big-ticket items, but I think we’re in a position where we’ll be able to get well above a trillion dollars pretty quickly,” Biden said.

Republican leaders in Congress have steadfastly said that the country has “a spending problem” -- not a revenue problem -- and raising taxes is not an option.

Biden told reporters that for evidence of the group’s progress, they need look no further than the fact that the bipartisan group of negotiators has been tight-lipped about the meetings.

“We’ve been having serious meetings about the most critical issue facing the country economically and everybody is still talking to one another and they’re not talking much to you and that’s evidence that it is serious,” he said.

In fact, the one gripe that Biden voiced Tuesday was not with Republicans, but rather with the conflicting schedules of the two chambers of Congress.

“It is a little inconvenient, totally unintended, the House is out one week, the Senate is out another week, so we all agreed that we can’t just meet on the weeks only when the House and Senate are in, so my friends in the House and the Senate are trying to work out on one of the recesses of the Senate, the senators are going to stay and on one of the recesses of the House, the House is going to stay, so we can continue to push through,” he said.

Before he left Capitol Hill, one reporter asked Biden if Republicans accepted that revenues need to be on the negotiating table, to which the vice president quipped with a chuckle, “Republicans love it!”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum to Officially Launch Presidential Bid

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum will officially jump into the presidential race during the week of June 5, a source close to the socially conservative former Pennsylvania Senator told ABC News on Tuesday.

Santorum would become the sixth Republican candidate to officially declare he is running for the GOP presidential nomination (assuming no one else announces before him), following in the footsteps of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex.

Santorum has been polling in the low single digits, making his road to the GOP nomination a tough one. But he has real appeal among conservatives and he has already shown a willingness to be an "attack dog" within the GOP field. He has tangled with Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and, most recently, Gingrich.

Santorum has been traveling extensively to early nominating states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina over the past few months. He has been to each of those states more than a dozen times since he began exploring a presidential run.

Santorum plans to participate in a June 13 presidential debate at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

The Pennsylvania Republican established a presidential exploratory committee in early May.

The aide had no further details about where or in what form Santorum will make the announcement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three Georgia Governors Join Newt Gingrich Campaign

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich announced Tuesday that three governors from the Peach State are joining his presidential campaign.

Former Georgia Govs. Sonny Perdue and Zell Miller, who also served as a U.S. Senator, will serve as national chairmen of Gingrich’s campaign.  Miller, a Democrat, famously denounced John Kerry at the 2004 Republican National Convention and supported George W. Bush’s re-election campaign.

Current Gov. Nathan Deal will chair Gingrich's campaign in Georgia.

“I’m proud to have three very important Georgians helping lead our campaign,” Gingrich said in a statement.  “Sonny, Zell and Nathan are good friends and have always provided good counsel.  They will be there very important voices as we talk to the American people about the right policies we need to win the future."

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Gingrich said he will play in all the early states and has asked his supporters in Georgia to split their time campaigning between the neighboring states of Florida and South Carolina.  Gingrich’s campaign is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.

Earlier this month, another Georgian, Rep. Jack Kingston, endorsed Gingrich.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top Palin Aide Mocks Bristol, Mitt Romney in Leaked Tweets

Allison Shelley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Leaked private messages from one of Sarah Palin's top aides reportedly offer insight into how some people in Palin's inner circle feel about her, her family, and fellow politicians.

On Tuesday, website The Daily Caller published a series of inflammatory messages Palin's speechwriter and domestic policy adviser Rebecca Mansour sent last year via Twitter. Mansour's tweets were sent as "direct messages" -- meaning they went to one party and were not disseminated publicly until now.

In one series of messages, Mansour belittles Palin's eldest daughter, Bristol. Last July, After Bristol announced that she was planning to marry Levi Johnston, the father of her son, Mansour wrote, "I wish they were the Cleavers too. But it's life."

"Two words: Patti Davis. Okay three more: Ron Reagan Junior. Two more: Billy Carter. Doesn't your family have one?," Mansour wrote. "She [meaning Palin, presumably] will hold her at arm's length. Even Thatcher was never able to disown her screw up son Mark. It's a Mom thing."

Contacted about the messages by The Daily Caller, Mansour said she was trying to "calm down" a Palin supporter and that the messages were her opinions, not those of the former Alaska governor. Mansour and other Palin aides did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

In addition to mocking Bristol, Mansour reveals her true feelings about several people in Palin's orbit. In one message, she called 2012 Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney's supporters "wacky as hell" and wrote "Would love to tell Mitt's lackeys to stop backstabbing my boss anonymously."

The Daily Caller said they received the tweets directly from Mansour's recipient. Politico's Ben Smith wrote Tuesday that someone tried to sell him the same messages last fall. Smith added that The Daily Caller’s editor-in-chief, Tucker Carlson, told him in an email Tuesday, "we don't pay for stories, and we didn't pay for this one," and the person who initially tried to sell Smith messages confirmed that no money was exchanged. Incidentally, Carlson was forced to apologize for making a sexually suggestive joke about Palin last year on his own Twitter feed. He attempted to delete it, but not before it was made public by female conservative pundits.

The news of Mansour's tweets comes the same day as the release of Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years, a book by ex-Palin aide Frank Bailey that is being billed as the first tell-all from a former Palin insider.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


With 2012 Campaign Underway, DNC Out-Raises Republicans in April

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Less than two months after formally launching his bid for reelection, President Obama is demonstrating why he could be on track to set a new campaign fundraising record in 2012.

Obama helped the Democratic National Committee (DNC) collect more than $14 million last month, more than double the amount raised by Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

The president has attended 18 fundraisers since April 4, many held jointly with the DNC, including three fundraisers in his hometown of Chicago, six in California neighborhoods outside Los Angeles and San Francisco, and three in New York City.

Obama raised more than $127 million in California and New York in 2008, the top two states of donors giving to his campaign.

Many of the events so far, with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $35,800, have padded the party's coffers, with only a small portion of the monies raised directly to the Obama Victory Fund for 2012, organizers say.

Campaign finance reports for Obama and the Republican presidential candidates due for release in mid-July will offer the first official glimpse of individual fundraising efforts. 

Obama raised a record $745 million in 2008, the first time a presidential campaign topped $1 billion in fundraising overall.  In 2012, many expect the Obama campaign alone could raise $1 billion or more.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tuesday's New York Special Election Has National Implications

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Voters in New York's 26th Congressional district go to the polls Tuesday to pick a new member of Congress, and their choice will say as much about who they want to represent them as it does about the national mood on a major GOP proposal already shaping the debate in the Republican presidential primary.

The race between Democrat Kathleen Hochul, the clerk of Erie County, Republican state legislator Jane Corwin, and long-shot candidate Jack Davis, who is running under a Tea Party mantle, has become a war over Rep. Paul Ryan's budget and Medicare overhaul plan.

The district, situated in the far western corner of New York State -- stretching nearly to the Canadian border and Lake Eerie in the west and almost to Lake Ontario in the north -- lost its representative earlier this year when Republican Chris Lee resigned after posting risqué pictures of himself online.

The race has taken on new importance now that the Ryan plan has emerged as a key driver of the political conversation heading into the 2012 race.  A win by Hochul will be seen as a referendum on the GOP's ambitious budget blueprint.

A recent poll conducted by Siena College put Hochul on top over Corwin by four points, 42 percent to 38 percent.  Davis, who has spent millions of his own money on the race, was running a distant third with 12 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cursed Travel? Obama's Trips Plagued by Mother Nature

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(LONDON) -- President Obama is in Europe this week to discuss economic and security issues, but his long-planned voyage has been overshadowed by the devastation in Joplin, Missouri, where the single deadliest tornado in 60 years has killed 116 people.

This is not the first time one of Obama's international trips has been eclipsed by a disaster.  Several of his previous voyages have been cursed by Mother Nature and other unforeseen circumstances.

Last year, he shelved his trip to Indonesia and Australia because of the BP oil spill disaster.  He had previously postponed that trip because of the health care vote.

The president also couldn't fly to the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in April 2010 because of volcanic ash emitting from Iceland.  He had to cut his November Indonesia trip short for the same reason.

On Monday, an Icelandic ash cloud -- albeit from a different volcano -- forced the president and his staff to leave Ireland a day earlier than planned.  He was originally scheduled to spend the night there but due to the erupting Grimsvotn volcano, he was forced to leave for England Monday night.

If all goes as planned, the president and first lady will stay in London for two days, meeting with members of the royal family -- including the Queen, and Prince William and his new bride Catherine -- while there.  The Obamas will spend Tuesday night at Buckingham Palace.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Biden Already Setting the Stage for 2016 White House Run?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Apparently looking far off into the future, Vice President Joe Biden is considering his job options, whether the Democratic ticket wins or loses in 2012.

A source told the website Politico that Biden brought up the subject of a possible run for the White House in 2016 during a dinner with major Democratic donors last week in Cincinnati, Ohio.

He suggested that existing political conditions as well as his own health would be deciding factors in a decision to seek the presidency.  Biden will be 70 in 2016.

While Biden might be jumping the gun a bit, some names have already been floated as possible Democratic contenders including Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Biden sought the Democratic nomination in 1988 and again in 2008.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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