Latest in Edwards corruption trial: A news guide

May 12, 2012

The Associated Press on May 12, 2012 released the following:

“RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge refused to throw out campaign corruption charges against John Edwards, so the former presidential hopeful will have to present his case to a jury.

Edwards is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments to help hide his pregnant mistress as he ran for president. He has pleaded not guilty.

Here is a look at the first weeks of the trial, and some highlights of witness testimony:

Q: WHAT EVIDENCE HAS THE PROSECTUTION PRESENTED SO FAR?

A: Prosecutors showed two members of Edwards’ inner circle, campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and fundraiser Andrew Young, engaged in a yearlong cover-up to hide the married presidential candidate’s pregnant mistress from the media as he ran for the White House in 2008. Young, who is married, falsely claimed paternity of his boss’ baby and received $725,000 in secret checks from an elderly heiress, using some of the money to care for the mistress, Rielle Hunter. A wealthy Texas lawyer, Baron provided Young and Hunter $319,500 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Q: TO WHAT EXTENT HAS THE PROSECUTION SUCCESSFULLY MADE THEIR CASE?

A: After years of Edwards saying he had no knowledge of the cover up, prosecutors introduced phone records, voicemails and other evidence showing he was in frequent contact with Baron, Young and Hunter, all while his mistress was in hiding. Former members of Edwards’ campaign also testified that Baron spoke of “moving Hunter around” in the candidate’s presence and that Edwards told his speechwriter he knew “all along” what Baron was up to. However, in 14 days of testimony no witness ever said Edwards knew he was violating campaign finance laws, a key element of criminal intent the government must prove to win a conviction.

Q: WHAT STRATEGY WILL THE DEFENSE USE?

A: Defense lawyers for Edwards have hammered the credibility of Young, the prosecution’s main cooperating witness, showing he fabricated parts of his 2010 tell-all book about the affair and that he siphoned off much of the secret money to build his family’s dream home. Edwards’ lawyers will also call former members of the Federal Election Commission to testify that the scheme to hide the mistress didn’t actually violate campaign finance laws. It’s unknown whether Edwards, a former trial lawyer, will take the stand in his own defense.

Q: IF CONVICTED, WHAT KIND OF JAIL TIME MIGHT EDWARDS FACE?

A: If convicted on all six counts, Edwards faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

Q: WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE MOST DRAMATIC MOMENTS SO FAR?

A: During emotional testimony that saw Edwards’ 30-year-old daughter flee the courtroom in tears, former campaign advisor Christina Reynolds recounted an October 2007 fight at a Raleigh airport where an enraged Elizabeth Edwards confronted her husband about his affair, ripping open her shirt and baring her chest.

Former aide Andrew Young testified that when Edwards learned Hunter was pregnant, his first reaction was to express doubt he was the father and call his mistress a “crazy slut.”

Young also described his climatic last meeting with Edwards in August 2008 on a secluded road near the former senator’s Chapel Hill mansion. Young said Edwards was nervous and acting so paranoid the aide feared his boss had hired men to shoot him.

SOME OF THE KEY QUOTES IN TESTIMONY:

– “You can’t hurt me, Andrew. You can’t hurt me.” – Edwards’ last words to Young, as recounted by the former aide on the witness stand.

– “He said he could be to poverty what Al Gore was to the environment.” – Young recounting Edwards’ plan to solicit a $50 million donation from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon to establish a foundation to combat poverty after his political career collapsed.

– “I’ve never asked anybody to pay a dime of money, never been told that any money’s been paid. Nothing has been done at my request. So if the allegation is that somehow I participated in the payment of money – that is a lie.” – Edwards in the 2008 interview on ABC’s Nightline that was played for the jury at his criminal trial. Evidence presented by prosecutors showed numerous statements made by Edwards during the interview were lies, including his denial of fathering Hunter’s baby.

– “You don’t see me anymore!” – Elizabeth Edwards yelling at her cheating husband as she exposed her breasts, as recounted by Reynolds.

– “She thought maybe you should probably pay for your girlfriend yourself.” – 101-year-old heiress Bunny Mellon’s reaction upon learning some of the $725,000 she secretly provided to help Edwards went to hide his mistress, as recounted by Charlotte interior designer Bryan Huffman.

– “She thought it was a little low.” – Huffman’s reply after a prosecutor asked if Mellon was aware of a federal law that then limited individual political contributions to $2,300 per election cycle.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Judge refuses to dismiss John Edwards charges

May 11, 2012

USA Today on May 11, 2012 released the following:

“RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge refused to throw out campaign corruption charges against John Edwards on Friday, meaning the former presidential hopeful will have to present his case to a jury.

Lawyers for Edwards argued before U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles that prosecutors failed to prove Edwards intentionally violated the law.

After two-and-a-half hours of arguments from prosecutors and the defense, the judge ruled immediately from the bench that there was enough evidence to let jurors decide.

Motions to dismiss are routine in criminal trials, but rarely granted. The decision means Edwards’ lawyers will begin calling witnesses Monday.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. He is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

After 14 days of testimony and evidence presented by prosecutors, legal observers in the North Carolina courtroom said the government’s case was weak.

“They have established their case enough to get to a jury, but it has holes in it,” said Kieran J. Shanahan, a Raleigh defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor. “He is not charged with being a liar and he is not charged with having a baby out of wedlock. He is charged with breaking campaign finance laws.”

To prove guilt, prosecutors must show that Edwards not only knew about the money used in the cover-up orchestrated by two members of his campaign, which he denies, but also that the former trial lawyer knew he was violating the law.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday by playing a tape of a 2008 national television interview in which the Democrat repeatedly lied about his extramarital affair with the woman, Rielle Hunter, and denied fathering her baby. Earlier testimony from a parade of former aides and advisors also showed an unappealing side of Edwards, casting him as a liar and lousy husband.

“It is rare the jury gets to see the defendant talking about the main issues of a case in a televised videotape, especially with the defendant watching himself talking about the issues in the videotape,” said Steven Friedland, a former prosecutor and professor as Elon University School of Law. “The defense must somehow counteract that lasting impression.”

A key question is whether Edwards will take the stand in his own defense.

Before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1998, Edwards made a fortune as a personal injury lawyer renowned for his ability to sway jurors. However, in doing so Edwards would also expose himself to what would likely be a withering cross-examination about his many past lies and personal failings.

The defense could also call Hunter to the stand, which prosecutors declined to do. She could potentially echo Edwards’ position that he didn’t have direct knowledge of the secret effort to care for her and keep her out of the public eye.

However, Friedland said he’d be surprised to see the mistress take the stand.

“She will simply call more attention to the lies surrounding her affair and pregnancy,” he said.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.