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John Edwards leaving court after his indictment in June.
The New York Times on October 25, 2011 released the following:
“By KIM SEVERSON
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Lawyers for John Edwards will head to federal court here on Wednesday to ask a judge to dismiss charges that he violated campaign finance laws by using money from two wealthy benefactors to support his pregnant mistress during his run for the presidency in 2008.
His lawyers contend that the government has exceeded the reach of federal election laws.
In a series of filings, Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina and the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, argued that the nearly $1 million that was used to keep secret his relationship with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer with whom he had a daughter, came in the form of gifts — not campaign contributions.
Prosecutors argue that the payments were in fact campaign contributions because they were intended to help hide information that could damage Mr. Edwards politically. They also say Mr. Edwards filed false campaign reports to cover up the payments.
Mr. Edwards, 58, and his lawyers have argued that if the prosecutors’ theory is upheld, then campaigns could use legal contributions “to pay for a candidate to conceal a mistress, conceal an unwed pregnant daughter and, one would imagine, even to pay for an abortion to hide evidence of an affair.”
The hearing here on Wednesday in Federal District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina is expected to last all day and offer a good preview of the aggressive legal chess game that Mr. Edwards is preparing to play if the charges are allowed to stand and the trial opens in January.
Mr. Edwards’s lawyers will argue that prosecutors are using federal conspiracy laws incorrectly and that the entire case is a politically motivated abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
Allowing the trial to proceed would turn election law on its head, Mr. Edwards’s lawyers contend, making ambiguous for all candidates what does or does not count as a campaign contribution.
The theory is backed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit organization founded to fight Congressional corruption that often serves as a counterpoint to more conservative watchdog groups.
Over objections by prosecutors, a federal judge this month allowed the group to file a brief that was critical of the charges.
Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, have complained about conflicts of interest on Mr. Edwards’s legal team, which has been in flux. In August, Abbe Lowell, a lawyer who has represented several politicians, including former Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, and who was the chief investigative counsel for House Democrats during the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, took over from a team that included a former White House counsel, Greg Craig.
Mr. Lowell had represented Lisa Blue-Baron, the widow of Mr. Edwards’s national campaign finance chairman, Fred Baron, who was one of the two people who provided Mr. Edwards the money in question. Mr. Lowell assisted Mrs. Baron when she was interviewed by the F.B.I. in the case and later when she testified before the grand jury that indicted Mr. Edwards in June on six counts.
Mr. Edwards’s legal team took another hit this month when Wade Smith, a longtime friend of Mr. Edwards and a prominent Raleigh lawyer who has been at the forefront of the case, stepped down. Early in the investigation, Mr. Smith had conversations with a lawyer for Rachel Mellon, the 101-year-old banking heiress, known as Bunny, who provided as much as $750,000 that was used in part to support Ms. Rielle.
Because of that, Mr. Smith could potentially be a witness in the case.
Defense lawyers have, in turn, been unhappy with the prosecution. They charged in court papers that the former United States attorney, George Holding, a Republican appointee of President George W. Bush who stayed on after the Democrats took the White House in 2008 to finish the Edwards case, was politically hostile to Mr. Edwards and pursued the case to further his political ambitions.
Mr. Holding recently resigned to run for Congress next year.
Prosecutors countered that the defense argument was based on “speculative political theories and unfortunate attacks” and that political motivations did not matter since other prosecutors at the Justice Department, including Lanny Breuer, an assistant attorney general appointed by President Obama, approved the indictment.
If convicted, Mr. Edwards faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.”
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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