Edwards' fate on hold as grand jury delayed
June 1st, 2011
12:17 PM ET
11 years ago

Edwards' fate on hold as grand jury delayed

Raleigh, North Carolina (CNN) - The fate of former presidential candidate John Edwards will rest in the hands of the U.S. Justice Department for another week after an investigation into his campaign finances was delayed.

A grand jury was set to meet this week in North Carolina, but those proceedings were put on hold, sources told CNN. Sources familiar with the inquiry told CNN last week that prosecutors want Edwards to plead guilty to a felony charge and the former senator and his legal team are discussing a plea deal.

The case centers on whether Edwards illegally used campaign funds to cover up an affair with his mistress, Rielle Hunter, with whom he fathered a child. The government alleges more than $100,000 was poured into a political action committee by wealthy donors, namely now-deceased Texas lawyer Fred Baron and 100-year-old heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, and that those funds were used for homes, flights and other payments to Hunter to stay off the radar while Edwards sought the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The government's case centers on Andrew Young, a former campaign staffer who once cooperated in a scheme to say that he fathered Hunter's child to cover up with Edwards. In his book, "The Politician" Young wrote sordid details of a massive cover up that he says Edwards constructed.

Edwards initially denied the affair and that Hunter's child was his but eventually admitted it. But he contends he did not participate in a cover up. In May 2009, acknowledging he was the subject of a grand jury probe, he said, "I am confident that no funds my campaign were used improperly."

Dozens of former staffers have testified in front of the grand jury in Raleigh. The case against Edwards ratcheted up last October when prosecutors issued a wide net of subpoenas.

Last month the Justice Department authorized prosecutors to bring charges in the case.

Edwards lead lawyer, Greg Craig, responded in a statement to CNN that, "John Edwards has done wrong in his life - and he knows it better than anyone - but he did not break the law."

"The government originally investigated allegations that Senator Edwards' campaign's funds were misused but continued its pursuit even after finding that not one penny from the Edwards campaign was involved. The Justice Department has wasted millions of dollars and thousands of hours on a matter more appropriately a topic for the Federal Election Commission to consider, not a criminal court," Craig added.

Edwards is the primary caretaker of two of his young children after the death of his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, last year. He faces possible jail time, disbarment and the public airing in a trial of the intimate details of his life.

While the government is urging Edwards to plead guilty to a felony charge, his plans to return to public life remain on hold, just as the grand jury meetings do.

Filed under: John Edwards • North Carolina
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. diridi

    just an idiot...that's all.....lawyer means nothing....shame...

    June 1, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Glenn from Cary

    There's no point in defending Edwards. But an additional scandal is the conduct of the prosecutor. He's a protege of Jesse Helms, a Bush appointee and has operated like a "special prosecutor" for the last two years. The longer he drags this out the more money he makes and the more points he scores as a partisan witch-hunter. Any article that purports to cover this story without mentioning the prosecutor's personal and political motives falls far short of journalism. Do your homework, CNN, and give your readers the whole truth.

    June 1, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Lesyeuxavit

    Yes. Complete idiot. So embarrassing for the kids.

    June 1, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. RJ

    Nobody comments on articles about John Edwards' legal problems. It's as if nobody really cares.

    June 1, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. beelzebubba

    What a sleazeball ambulance chasing shyster lawyer. I'm ashamed that pretty-boy is from my state. No self-respecting prison would want him to sully their reputation.

    June 1, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. beelzebubba

    Well all we need to hear now is that John is really the 'victim' in all this. Get ready for some real heart-tugging drama from John like: "I am a sex-addict and couldn't help myself..."

    June 1, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I think this is just the beginning of a "bigger fish to fry" and it ain't Edwards. A lot of these "so-called" politicians are going to run for the hills or fold like a house of cards.

    June 1, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Lenora

    If he's innocent, I'd think he'd want the trial. However, if he's guilty, the plea deal might be the best way to go.
    How do you know if a politician is lying? His mouth is moving.

    June 1, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. PaulMofATL

    Too bad he won't go to jail. Perhaps he will get a show on CNN like Spitzer.

    June 1, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. svann

    I was going to say this was exactly the same thing that Schwartzenegger did. They both had an affair that resulted in a child. They both paid her to keep quiet during the election. But then this article has something new that I didnt see before. Prosecutors are claiming that the friend donated to a PAC and then he took from the PAC to pay off the mistress? If true then that I think would be illegal. And unbelievably stupid. What purpose could there have been routing it through the PAC when it should be obvious that that would make it illegal?

    June 1, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |