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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Filed under: John Edwards • Politics • U.S.
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Anthony's Case Posts

    I do not think her dad molested her. I believe this young woman is a sociopath. Nothing is ever her fault. She would only go far enough to admit she “knew” little Caylee was dead, however she COULD NOT and WOULD NOT admit she did it. She threw her entire family under the bus to save herself. What kind of person does this to her entire family? If what she is alledging her father did to her is a lie….she is going to roast in hell. That is the most AWFUL thing she could have done to him. I only hope that this man can make it through these accussations. What does her family think of her…..WOW is all I can say about Ms Casey Anthony…..”she is something else”

    June 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat2u

      You don't pay attention to the topics, do you ? This story is about John Edwards.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • SMSF

      Um, maybe you should post something actually related to the topic. After you learn how to spell.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jj

    johnny edwards embarrassed himself. i do not need some liberally biased journalistto tell me otherwise!

    June 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • R-Nevada

      So you're saying the politicization of the justice system is okay so long as it's consistent with your views? This is one area where professionalism, objectivity and adherence to the law is critical. Our justice system MUST transcend the turd-tossing contest that currently passes for two-party politics in this country. Indict Edwards, sure. Just don't turn the proceedings into a partisan circus.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • NOVOKOV

      TO JOHN EDWARDS:

      CAN YOU JUST COMMIT SUICIDE AND SPARE US AND ELIZABETH'S CHILDREN MORE OF YOUR DISGUSTING TRIAL?

      YOU, EDWARDS, ARE A SELFISH MAN FOR NOT TAKING A PLEA TO SPARE YOUR CHILDREN MORE PAIN.

      YOU DROVE ELIZABETH EDWARDS TO HER GRAVE.

      WHEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SEE YOU, MR. EDWARDS, WE SEE AN EVIL AND VILE MAN.

      PLEASE JOHNNY. DO IT FOR ALL OUR SAKES.

      June 4, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    I love gay men! I am twice as gay as Elton John.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bobcat2u

    Trying to cause him embarassment ? LOL !!!!!! This man embarrassed, himself, his family, his country. No sympathy from this man.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anthony's Case Posts

    Here is a girl who lied about her daughters whereabouts, and is trying to pin the murder on someone else we all know she did it she is nothing but a two faced liar, who should pay dearly for what she has done. it is like the susan smith case all over again. i personally think she should die for the murder.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KeithB

    Toobin missed the point of the "haircut" reference in the indictment. The purpose of quoting that text was to show that Person C was willing and had offered to pay for items "necessary and important for the campaign" – including the famous haircuts. It's important to note that Person C acknowledged that the offered payment would be related to the campaign.

    It directly relates to the charges against Edwards and the intention of the donations/gifts. Might want to re-read the indictment with an eye toward what the government is trying to prove.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RAMBLE3144

    Toobin, this is absolutely embarrasing to CNN. They wanted Cheney.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jim

    @anthony's posts- Give it a DAMN BREAK already. As for Edwards he already embarrassed himself much the same way Gingrich did.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jazzzzz

    Size does matter. He he.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mb

    I used to like him. But I feel totally betrayed by him. I believe that his guilt or innocence should be determined through due process. But he isn't the man that I thought he was and he sure has made a fine mess out of things.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • NOVOKOV

      JOHN EDWARDS SHOULD BE FACING A MURDER CHARGE FOR DRIVING ELIZABETH TO THE GRAVE. HE SHOULD FACE THE SAME PUNISHMENT AS THE FASCIST MOUSSILINI.

      June 4, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. Larry L

    I trusted John Edwards and was sucked-in to his "sincerity". Get a rope and hang the slime ball.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ron

    Even if this indictment is only meant to embarrass him – GOOD! Too bad he isn't dead!

    June 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. WhoKnewIt

    Are you watching all of this Elizabeth? Bet you are.....and smiling from ear to ear!

    June 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Frank ( R-Ohio )

    Mr. Toobin – An indictment that speaks loud and clear. And it definitly sends a "clear" message that cuts through a variety of social strata, because it hits home and hits hard.
    I don't know much legal stuff, maybe someone can elaborate, but is this speaking indictment "like" a priori assumption?
    To put it my own moronic terms..."the cage still spins, but the hamsters dead".

    June 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kenny

    I'm an NC Democrat that had a bad feeling about John from the beginning and took a lot of heat from friends for not supporting my neighbor. Well now he has been charged in an indictment. It's now up to his defense team to prove he is innocent. What saddens me is that he will probably be allowed to make a deal and walk away with a slap on the wrist while any other average American would already have a prison cell reserved for him. I didn't trust him then and I do not trust our system of justice to deal with him now.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
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