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.