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. GTender

    After reading the indictment, I believe that what Mr. Toobin calls extraneous is designed specifically to counter Edwards' argument that the payments were not campaign contributions and were only for the purpose of keeping Elizabeth in the dark. I find this argument by Edwards to be dubious at best, but it is one that his legal team advanced in pre-indictment negotiations with prosecutors. The haircut quotation is wonderful evidence that the donation from that donor was for campaign purposes.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ed Zachary

    Nothing wrong with a little shame when you misbehave. He didn't show any shame when he brazenly lied about his affair and let his campaign worker take the blame for the child. Talk about lack of character!

    June 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dead Man Blogging

    So, does the author feel that we should not hold our public offiicials to high standards?

    If he took this money and it is ruled that it was NOT a campaign contribution, did he report it as income on his own tax returns? If so, I would say that he broke no laws. He's sllimy, yes, but there's no law against being slimy. On the other hand, if he didn't report the money as either a campaign contribution or as a personal gift, then he's got a legal problem.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Gift tax is paid by the giver, not the recipient.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juan Pacheco

      If the money is considered a gifty, he does not have to report it uness there is a gift of more than 1 million

      June 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mavent

      I think what the author is trying to say is that in a system supposedly ruled by Law, including a bunch of completely irrelevant personal commentary in an Inditement is wrong on just about every level. If Edwards did something illegal, then great, Try him for it. But larding the Inditement with pointless idiocy about his "expensive haircuts" is wrong. It's akin to the lynchmob mentality of two centuries ago, when you could be tried, found guilty and hanged merely for "being black".

      June 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Mavent: Did you read the indictment before making your comments? And no, you shouldn't HAVE to, you should be able to read an article and expect some level balance to it. But you can't.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Dead Man: I read the indictment. Either it's a bunch of lies, which is unlikely considering the Democrats are in power now, or Johnny's got a problem.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ralphie

      Toobin's obviously not questioning whether politicians should be held to high standards. He's pointing out that information about haircuts goes beyond that.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    What a POS cheating on his wife, oh wasnt it his dyeing wife. I hope there is a special place in hell for him. people like him give all males a bad name.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Doesn't this sound a lot like good ole Newt Gingrich cheating on his dying wife while she was in the Hospital?

      June 3, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Mike, How many times have you cheated on your wife or girlfriend? Remember Jesus, "who has not sinned let him throw the first stone"...Nobody came up!

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

      While I agree with you about him cheating on his wife etc, but there needs to be a distinction made.

      This Federal indictment is should be about whether Edwards misused campaign money , and other related matters, and not really whether he cheated on his wife.

      Unfortunately, the Federal Prosecutor seems to have fallen into the same trap as you – letting your emotions run away with you 🙂

      And I sincerely hope Edwards' wife wasn't dyed 🙂 🙂

      June 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name (Withheld)

      "How many times have you cheated on your wife or girlfriend?" Never. Not all men are pigs. Indict him for crimes, not for being sleazy.

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

    Mr. Toobin would know about the matters that embroil John Edwards.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bibbpi

      True, this is hilarious that CNN is having Toobin write about a lovechild sitaution

      June 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Glen

    Campaign funds are not for personal use. As a lawyer he should understand that. Worse yet, he is a wealthy person. He had more than enough of his own money to take care of this matter. Sounds like another politician that thinks he is above the law.

    I have never heard the term speaking indictment. One would hope that an indictment would not have political tones. Unfortunately, our government politicizes a lot of matters. Having said that, it has taken a long time for this matter to get to this stage. Seems like he has gotten plently of breaks in this investigation

    June 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fmrsnr

    Karma is a female dog in heat

    June 3, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BarbaraSamburu

    Edwards is a snake in the grass you horses petute. He lied, cheated and what all else and his new girlfriend – what makes you think he will be different with you????

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

      And would you vote him president? 🙂

      June 3, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    Wow, Toobin just can't help himself. His liberal bias overwhelms his intellect and common sense. I'm sure that's what all the members of the grand jury's mission was – "let's embarrass Edwards." if the same thing happened to a conservative, this article would never have been written.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarineDad

      At the back of your mind, you have to remember, that the Federal Prosecutor is under this administration, and Eric Holder. All liberals.

      So, the question ought to be, if Edwards was a Conservative, would a GW Administration bring charges against him?

      June 3, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name (Withheld)

      Actually I think he's implying that if the indictment is too over-the-top, he might walk away from the charges. Get him for what he's done, not for what he is.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rho

    I can't stand the thought that his children (and us) are going to have to listen to this every time we turn on the news for months – I hope he figures out some settlement. Between this and the twitter account mess, the news is not interesting anymore.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. KB

    Or maybe, Jeffrey dear, all of those details were very pertinent to the case, and HAD to be mentioned in the indictment. One of the donors who gave far more than is legal (and Edwards illegally accepted) specifically agreed to pay for the haircuts because he was furious with the press for making an issue out of it. Didn't count on anybody actually reading the indictment to call you on your little libtardish, partisan trash piece, did you?

    June 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mavent

      Let's see: which of you is a professional legal analyst?

      June 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Mavent: Let's see, which one of us is passing himself off as a "journalist"? This wasn't in the Opinion section.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name (Withheld)

      HAIRCUTS, man? I'd like to see the piece of trash taken out myself, and I'm sorry if that blows your mind. "Liberal" is a political stance, not a social disease like your man Gingrich says. I'm a lot more moral than you are, and I'd never cheat on my wife and betray all my friends the way Edwards did. Too many people in public life are imposters. Calling people 'libtards' shows that you don't like to think for yourself, but if you actually believe there are such people you are a tool.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Name: If I was referring to a thinking, honest, non-passive-aggressive Liberal, I'd have respectfully called him a Liberal. Slanting the truth, telling half-truths, etc., presumably to use your "expertise" and name to further your political views is amoral, and just as deserving of being called a Libtard as some of the things some Cons do to deserve the tag "Repuglican".

      June 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David M

    I read the entire indictment. It's not insulting. It simply states whats he did. He insulted himself and his family by his actions. If it's true, and I suspect it is, he not only did wrong, but he broke the law. Even lawyers and politicians are subject to the same laws I am.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • RLG in REAL Virginia

      AGREE WITH YOU COMPLETELY, David! Their careers and politics aren't the issue- no matter where their allegiances fall. They should all be judged on their own words and actions. If that were the REAL standard, DC would be empty and real estate here much cheaper.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      I read it also, and agree completely. What we call "journalism" these days is atrocious.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name (Withheld)

      They're piling on charges to prejudice the case, and they run the risk of having it dismissed or otherwise failing. If I sue you, I want it done calmly and correctly so you can't get away.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Name: just read the indictment already.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Skip

    Poor baby.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Roger Ogilivie Thornhill

    So when does Edwards get his own CNN program? Maybe he can join an existing program? Spitzer and Edwards?

    June 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Spacecadet

    Juan, whose your tax attorney? The max exclusion on a gift is $13k, anything about that amount is taxed...thats per gifter...

    June 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
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