Overheard on CNN.com: 'Being a slimy dirtbag doesn't equal being a criminal'
John Edwards makes a statement outside the courthouse.
May 31st, 2012
07:39 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'Being a slimy dirtbag doesn't equal being a criminal'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

The federal jury in the trial of former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, apparently had some difficulty coming to a decision, acquitting him on one count and remaining deadlocked on the other five. Readers talked about what that result means and whether Edwards' behavior should be considered criminal.

Edwards gets acquittal on one count, mistrial on others

Most readers seemed to have less than favorable views of Edwards' behavior, but they didn't agree on whether justice is being served.

sarcastr0: "Being a slimy dirtbag doesn't equal being a criminal. That was known going in, and this just proved it. Thanks for wasting taxpayer money on a show trial that had no chance to get anywhere."

crzycatldy: "Face it folks, there is never justice for we the taxpayers when the defendant is a John Edwards. They will always get away with it and then apologize to the camera as if that makes it OK. Until we decide to take back this country...but I don't see that happening anytime soon as we've become spineless sheep."

One person speculated about what jurors were debating.

Sphy: "It seems pretty clear that there is at least one juror who understands that Edwards did not break the the letter of the law and at least one juror who wants to hang him for being a bad husband."

From a broader perspective, many expressed disappointment in the behavior of our leadership. Have we simply found another version of the nobles of yore? FULL POST

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John Edwards not guilty of illegal campaign contributions; mistrial on other charges
May 31st, 2012
04:25 PM ET

John Edwards not guilty of illegal campaign contributions; mistrial on other charges

[Updated at 4:31 p.m. ET] The judge in the John Edwards trial has declared a mistrial on all counts except for the one on which the jury found the former presidential candidate not guilty, CNN producers in the courtroom said Thursday.

The jury has been dismissed by the judge.

CNN Producer Ted Metzger said that the decision came after the jury sent a note saying they had exhausted all options. All of the lawyers read over the note, as did Edwards, who did not react.

When the judge read the final verdict and declared a mistrial on other charges, Edwards had an expression of relief but also pain that the trial might have to go on again, Metzger said.

[Updated at 4:24 p.m. ET] The jury in the John Edwards trial has found the former presidential candidate not guilty on count three of accepting illegal campaign contributions from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008.

The jury said it was deadlocked on the other charges.

That was the sole count the jury had earlier that they had reached a unanimous verdict on. The jury was still deadlocked on the other charges.

The Justice Department will now have to decide whether to try him again on the other charges.

[Updated at 3:08 p.m. ET] The judge in former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' federal corruption trial has ordered jurors to continue deliberations after they announced they had reached a verdict on only one of six counts.

The judge will soon issue an "Allen charge," which is essentially a request from the court for the jury to go back into deliberations and try again to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts.

[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET] The prosecution has asked for the jury to go back in the jury room to deliberate. The defense has asked for a mistrial on the remaining counts.

The judge is taking a five minute recess on the matter. The judge has the option to issue an "Allen charge," which is essentially a request from the court for the jury to go back into deliberations and try again to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts.

What are the charges against John Edwards?

[Posted at 2:53 p.m. ET] The jury in the John Edwards trial has only reached a unanimous decision on one charge against John Edwards.

The group of jurors said that as of this moment they could only agree on the charge of illegal campaign contributions from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon. We do not know which way the jury decided on that count.

Edwards, a former Democratic U.S. senator and presidential candidate, was charged with accepting illegal campaign contributions, falsifying documents and conspiring to receive and conceal the contributions. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Everything you need to know about John Edwards

Jurors last week asked to review all the exhibits, indicating they were in it for the long haul.

Prosecutors said Edwards "knowingly and willingly" accepted almost $1 million from two wealthy donors to hide former mistress Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy, then concealed the donations by filing false and misleading campaign disclosure reports.

Defense attorneys argued that Edwards was guilty of nothing but being a bad husband to his wife, Elizabeth, who died in 2010. They also argued that former Edwards aide Andrew Young used the money for his own gain and to pay for Hunter's medical expenses to hide the affair from Edwards' wife.

Neither Edwards nor Hunter testified during the trial. The affair occurred as Edwards was gearing up for a second White House bid in 2008, and he knew his political ambitions depended on keeping his affair with Hunter a secret, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon told jurors in closing arguments.

Prosecutors argued that Edwards knowingly violated campaign finance laws by accepting the large contributions from Rachel Mellon and Fred Baron that went to support Hunter. Edwards "knew these rules well," Higdon said, and should have known that the contributions violated campaign finance laws.

Edwards accepted $725,000 from Mellon and more than $200,000 from Baron, prosecutors said. The money was used to pay for Hunter's living and medical expenses, travel and other costs to keep her out of sight while Edwards made his White House run, prosecutors say.

FULL STORY
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Everything you need to know about John Edwards
May 31st, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Everything you need to know about John Edwards

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008, and Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004. He is accused of six counts stemming from allegations that he accepted illegal campaign contributions, falsified documents and conspired to receive and conceal the contributions. The maximum sentence if convicted on all six counts would be 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Photos: John Edwards' career

Major dates

* December 27, 2006: John Edwards announces at an event in New Orleans that he is running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. He suspends his campaign on January 30, 2008.

* June 3, 2011: Edwards is indicted on six counts including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.

Personal information

* Birth date: June 10, 1953

* Birth place: Seneca, South Carolina

* Birth name: Johnny Reid Edwards

* Parents: Wallace, a textile mill worker, and Catherine "Bobbie" Edwards

* Marriage: Elizabeth (Anania) Edwards (July 30, 1977 – December 7, 2010, her death)

* Children with Rielle Hunter: Frances Quinn Hunter, February 27, 2008

* Children with Elizabeth Edwards: Jack, 2000; Emma Claire, April 24, 1998; Cate, 1982; Wade, 1979 – 1996

* Education: North Carolina State University, B.S., 1974 (with honors)

* University of North Carolina, J.D, 1977 (with honors)

* Religion: Methodist

Other Facts:

* Edwards had no previous political experience before winning the 1998 Senate election.

* He was the first person in his family to attend college.

* When a US Senator, he introduced legislation on the following issues:

Education

Health Care

Homeland Security

Privacy Protection

Environment

Senior Citizens

Strengthening Criminal Justice System and Courts

Military

Economic growth

* As a presidential candidate in the 2008 election, Edwards repeatedly lied about an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, a documentary filmmaker. He admits the affair to ABC News on August 8, 2008.

Timeline

* 1981 Joins the Wade Smith Law Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.

* 1993  Starts his own law firm with partner David Kirby, concentrating on personal injury law.

* 1996  Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Lawyers Weekly.

* 1998  Receives 51.2% of the vote in general election to Republican Lauch Faircloth's (incumbent) 47% to win seat in the U.S. Senate.

* January 3, 1999  Is sworn in as senator.

* June 29, 2001  Edwards, along with Sen. John McCain, acts as chief sponsor of the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act.

* January 2, 2003  Announces the formation of an presidential campaign exploratory committee with the FEC.

* September 16, 2003  Formally announces his candidacy for president, in the town where he grew up, Robbins, NC.

* October 14, 2003  Announces that he will not vote for the $87 billion Iraq aid package.

* January 19, 2004  Takes 2nd place in the Iowa caucuses with 32% of the vote.

* February 3, 2004 – Wins the South Carolina Primary with 45% of the votes, 2nd in Oklahoma and Missouri.

* March 3, 2004  Announces that he's dropping out of the race.

* July 6, 2004  John Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate, names Edwards as his vice presidential running mate.

* November 3, 2004  Ends vice presidential candidacy when Sen. John Kerry calls President Bush to concede the White House race, one day after the election.

* January 3, 2005  Leaves the Senate when his term expires.

* February, 2005  Becomes the Director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

* December 27, 2006  John Edwards announces at an event in New Orleans that he is running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

* March 22, 2007 – Announces that his wife Elizabeth's cancer has returned, but he is continuing with his presidential campaign.

* January 30, 2008 – Edwards announces that he's suspending his race for the Democratic nomination. He declines to endorse either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

* February 27, 2008 – Frances Quinn Hunter is born. No father is listed on the birth certificate.

* May 14, 2008 – Edwards endorses Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for president.

* August 8, 2008 – In an interview with Nightline, Edwards admits to an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, a woman hired to make documentary videos for his campaign. He denies he is the father of her young daughter, due to the timing of the affair, though he hasn't taken a paternity test.

* February 2009 – The Justice Department opens an investigation into Edwards's 2008 campaign finances.

* May 2009 – Elizabeth Edwards publishes a memoir, Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities. She addresses the affair saying "I wanted him to drop out of the race, protect our family from this woman, from his act."

* August 6, 2009 – Rielle Hunter testifies in front of a grand jury investigating Edwards' campaign finances.

* January 21, 2010 – Admits he fathered a daughter, Quinn, with Rielle Hunter and has been providing financial support for her for the last year.

* January 27, 2010 – Separates from wife of more than 32 years.

* January 30, 2010 – The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down, by his former aide, Andrew A. Young, is published. Young claims campaign donation money from socialite Bunny Mellon was used to pay for Rielle Hunter's pregnancy expenses.

* December 2010 – A federal investigation into Edwards campaign finances includes grand jury appearances by Bunny Mellon's family. Mellon gave various checks totaling $700,000 to Edwards. The question is whether the money was a gift or should it have been declared campaign contributions. Her advanced age, 100, makes it unlikely Mellon herself will appear before the grand jury.

* December 7, 2010 – Elizabeth Edwards dies of cancer.

* February 2011 – Bunny Mellon testifies on camera in the Edwards investigation. Her age makes it a possibility she would not be available in the event of a trial.

* February 8, 2011 – Edwards gives a deposition in the lawsuit of Rielle Hunter against Andrew Young. Hunter is suing Young to reclaim materials that she says belong to her, including an alleged sex tape that involves Edwards.

* April 29, 2011 – A North Carolina judge rules that Edwards must testify more in the lawsuit of Rielle Hunter against Andrew Young.

* June 3, 2011 – Edwards is indicted on six counts including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws. Edwards pleads not guilty. "There's no question I've done wrong ... but I did not break the law."

* July 21, 2011 – The Federal Election Commission rules that Edwards must pay back $2.3 million to the U.S. Treasury. The money exceeds the matching funds from his 2008 campaign.

* August 24, 2011 – Edwards asks the court to delay his trial, which is scheduled to begin in October.

* December 22, 2011 – Edwards' attorneys ask to delay his criminal trial, saying Edwards has an unspecified medical issue.

* January 14, 2012 – Due to a critical heart condition Edwards' trial is postponed.

* April 12, 2012 – Jury selection begins in Edwards' trial.

* April 23, 2012 – Testimony begins in the trial.

* May 10, 2012 – The prosecution's case ends. Rielle Hunter was not called as a witness.

Publications:

Four Trials, with John Auchard, 2003

Real Solutions for America, a 60 page campaign booklet, 2003

Sources: Congressional Quarterly, Biography Resource Center, John Edwards home page (no longer active).

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Defense rests in John Edwards trial
May 16th, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Defense rests in John Edwards trial

John Edwards' defense team rested its case Wednesday in his corruption trial.

No more witnesses will be called and closing arguments are scheduled to begin tomorrow. Jury deliberations will likely begin on Friday.

The former U.S. senator's trial is under way in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is charged with six counts of illegal campaign contributions, conspiracy and falsifying documents. If found guilty on all charges, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

The government alleges Edwards "knowingly and willingly" accepted large amounts of money from wealthy campaign donors to hide Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy in an effort to remain a viable candidate in his 2008 presidential campaign.

A friend and adviser to Edwards testified Tuesday that the candidate appeared surprised to learn that an elderly heiress sent money that ended up going to Hunter and Young.

The defense, which began its case Monday, has argued that Young largely used the money for his own personal gain, while also paying for Hunter's medical expenses during her pregnancy in an effort to hide the affair from Edwards' wife. Donations for that purpose, the Edwards team has argued, cannot be considered in violation of campaign finance laws.

May 2nd, 2012
09:53 PM ET

CNN prime time: Dramatic day in Edwards trial, FAMU charges disappoint mom

Close

Aide recalls Elizabeth Edwards meltdown

A former aide details a graphic confrontation between Elizabeth Edwards and husband John.

Close

FAMU hazing charges disappoint mom

Robert Champion's mother tells CNN's Anderson Cooper why charges in FAMU hazing case are disappointing to her.

Close

Auma Obama on her famous brother

What’s it like to find out your brother is going to be president of the United States? Ask Auma Obama, President Obama’s long-lost sister.

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Overheard on CNN.com: So ... men are stupid? Readers beg to differ with Ghitis
Former Sen. John Edwards leaves the courthouse after the first day of jury selection in his trial in Greensboro, North Carolina.
April 23rd, 2012
05:36 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: So ... men are stupid? Readers beg to differ with Ghitis

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Former senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is beginning his criminal trial on felony and misdemeanor counts dating back to his failed campaign. One of the key allegations against Edwards is that he received $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to conceal his pregnant mistress. Edwards says he wasn't in the right, but he wasn't breaking the law either. In response to this fiasco, world affairs columnist Frida Ghitis has just one question.

Are men stupid?

Male readers were outraged.

Fangle620: "Yes, because no powerful women in history have ever had an affair. Not like certain powerful British (female) monarchs ever built their power on affairs. I'm a historian, I would know. This obviously has way too much bias, poor research, and too much hatred for men. Get a grip."

BlameMe: "Both men and women can be stupid when it comes to love, lust and passion. This is not by any means gender-based."

ozfozzy: "Men aren't stupid for fulfilling their biological purpose in life. The author is stupid for failing to understand men."

To be fair, some women joined in the cause.

fin59: "First, I am a woman. So to Frida, get your head out of the sand! Women have dalliances as well. Maybe we are better at it but we do it just the same. This 'crime,' if you want to call it that, has the same risk as many other crimes humans commit. Why do women shoplift? Is it arrogance? Not that simple. The behavior is inexcusable, but these men are just as human as every one of us. Get over yourself!"

dabble53: "Have to agree. At least 90% of the time, if the man is having an affair, there's a woman equally involved. (The other – up to 10% estimates – it's another man, but in any case, it takes two [or more] to have an affair.)"

OK, so maybe men are stupid, says this reader. FULL POST

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Filed under: John Edwards • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
Source: John Edwards has life-threatening heart condition
Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is seeking a delay in his upcoming trial on campaign finance charges.
January 13th, 2012
02:59 PM ET

Source: John Edwards has life-threatening heart condition

A federal judge has disclosed that former presidential candidate John Edwards has a life-threatening heart condition, a court source told CNN.

Attorneys for Edwards were in a North Carolina courtroom Friday seeking a delay in his criminal corruption trial, scheduled to begin this month. The attorneys also sought a delay last month, saying Edwards had an unspecified medical issue.

Edwards a former U.S. senator from North Carolina who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008 was indicted in June on six counts including conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws. He pleaded not guilty.

If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.

In September, the trial was delayed until January 30 after Edwards' attorneys said he needed more time, in part due to his position as the sole caretaker of his two youngest children, ages 11 and 13, after his wife, Elizabeth, passed away in December 2010.

A chief issue in the upcoming trial is whether money given to support Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, by the then-candidate's benefactors should have been considered campaign donations, a contention Edwards' team has disputed. They maintain the money was a gift to Hunter.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Courts • Crime • John Edwards
John Edwards indicted on conspiracy, campaign law violations
June 3rd, 2011
04:00 PM ET

John Edwards indicted on conspiracy, campaign law violations

Former senator and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards said there was no question "I've done wrong" but insisted he had not broken the law.

"I took full responsibility for having done wrong," Edwards said Friday, after his indictment on conspiracy, campaign law violations. "I did not break the law and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law."

Edwards was indicted Friday on six counts, including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws. If convicted on all counts, the former North Carolina senator would face up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1.5 million.

The grand jury was investigating whether money given to support Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter by Edwards' benefactors should have been considered campaign donations a contention Edwards' team disputed.

During their affair, Hunter became pregnant with Edwards' baby, though at first he denied he was the father. Prosecutors say money that two of Edwards' political backers gave to Hunter should have been considered campaign donations, Edwards' attorneys disagree.

There have been plea discussions ongoing between Edwards' defense lawyers and federal prosecutors, but no agreement has been reached.

Edwards had not wanted to plead guilty to a felony because he could lose his law license, a source familiar with the inquiry previously told CNN.

Edwards' attorney, Greg Craig, has said his client "has done wrong in his life - and he knows it better than anyone - but he did not break the law."

He said the government's theory of the case "is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law."

FULL STORY
Toobin: Edwards indictment 'meant to embarrass him'
Former Sen. John Edwards, shown here in 2008 on the campaign trail in New Orleans, was indicted Friday.
June 3rd, 2011
12:02 PM ET

Toobin: Edwards indictment 'meant to embarrass him'

Editor's Note: Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, offered his immediate reaction to the John Edwards indictment.

Former U.S.  Sen. John Edwards was indicted Friday by a federal grand jury amid allegations that he violated campaign finance law by providing for a mistress.

Instead of the typical "bare-bones" indictment that would simply list allegations related to potential abuses, Toobin said the document contained details meant to send a strong message to Edwards.

“There’s a saying in criminal law called a ‘speaking indictment’ ... an indictment that really makes the case, that really sort of outlines the evidence and really sticks it to the defendant," Toobin said.

"This is clearly a speaking indictment. There is a lot of technically extraneous material that is very insulting and very damaging," he said.

"There’s stuff about his haircuts, his famously expensive haircuts, this is obviously an indictment that is meant to embarrass him as well as simply announce the charges," he said.

While plea discussions had been ongoing, Edwards' defense lawyers and federal prosecutors have yet to come to agreement.

A grand jury has been investigating monetary assistance given to Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, by benefactors of Edwards 2008 presidential campaign. Federal prosecutors contend the funds should have been considered campaign donations - a contention Edwards' team has disputed.

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Former presidential, vice presidential candidate John Edwards indicted
June 3rd, 2011
10:20 AM ET

Former presidential, vice presidential candidate John Edwards indicted

Former senator and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted Friday on six counts, including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws.

Edwards is scheduled to appear in federal court in Winston Salem, North Carolina, at 2:30 p.m. ET, according to a Justice Department official.

Plea discussions had been ongoing between Edwards' defense lawyers and federal prosecutors, but no agreement was reached.  Edwards had not wanted to plead guilty to a felony because he could lose his law license, a source familiar with the inquiry previously told CNN.

A grand jury has been investigating that money given to support Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter by benefactors of Edwards should have been considered campaign donations - a contention Edwards' team has disputed.

Edwards had not wanted to plead guilty to a felony because he could lose his law license, a source familiar with the inquiry previously told CNN.

The case involves the financial aid given to Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter. During their affair, Hunter became pregnant with Edwards' baby, though at first he denied he was the father.

Read the indictment (PDF)

FULL POST

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