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. 1nd3p3ne3nt

    Toobin is one of the most respected voices in the news, since he has a history of taking an objective, critical point of view with most topics he opines on.

    He's merely saying that the allegations leveled at edwards are meant to not only list his charges, but also to embarrass him. It's a tactic, and he's simply pointing out the tactic.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. average joe

    h, you poor pitiful bleeding hearts. This is the slime ball you wanted to vote for ? A man so very SENSITIVEe to the needs and plights of the poor yet lives in a mansion on a hundred acres and has a beach house. I am sure it would have
    not been possible for him to give up a little of that to give to those less fortunate. I have thought he was slimy from
    the beginning and now he has been exposed. I'm not just picking on him, there are a lot of politicians full of it and stupid sheep to follow them, whatever party , they. are all the same. ME ME ME.....on our dime. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
    As for his "girlfriend" dropping him, I highly doubt it. She needs his $$, cause she is a leach and can't support herself.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name (Withheld)

      "she is a leach and can't support herself." You don't know who she is, do you? Books have been written about her. One was made into a movie. She makes plenty of $$$. Get real; indict him for what he actually did, not what we think of his cheating.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. average joe

    what about that did you not understand?

    June 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sebastian

    If he were a republican, like Gingrich, it would be OK because he worked hard campaigning and deserved it. It's a long stretch to tie money from a donor delivered in a candy box to being a legitimate campaign donation that was misused for illegal purposes. And again, if he were a republican, they would be screaming that this is big government overstepping its reach. This is all political and if he is incarcerated, he will be a legitimate political prisoner.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sum Guy

      "A grand jury has been investigating monetary assistance given to Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, by benefactors of Edwards 2008 presidential campaign"

      Come on, read that again and tell me he did nothing wrong.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      seb: "If he were a republican, like Gingrich, it would be OK because he worked hard campaigning and deserved it."

      That's not a very good misrepresentation of the Republican position. You took their economic viewpoint (you keep what you earn) and tried to tie it to political donations on the weak theory that a Republican would argue Edwards "earned" the right to misuse campaign funds?

      You're cool.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Horky

      Sebastian- You are way out in left field on your comment. GOPers fall frequently and liberals are here on the message boards, helping carve them up in a piranha style feeding frenzy. The media cuts them no slack. Wake up and visit reality, which is out of your mom's basement.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old Hal

      The key word in the Indictment is "benefactors" that sent money to Ms Hunter....Can anyone explain what a 100 year old Mrs Mellon, a Billionaire, expected to "benefit" from supporting Mrs Hunter; and what a now dead male Billionaire expected to "benefit" in paying Ms Hunters travel expenses? This is another misguided legal task similar to the Barry Bonds case wherein the Justice Dept has been trying for 8 years to prove what Bonds "thought" in the 1990's....Unreal!

      June 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Read the indictment. I guess I can't blame you for your ignorance if you just read this story expected to find something resembling reality...but then again, you should really know better. Again, read the indictment, and bear in mind the Democrats are in control at present.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel

    Another tragedy here. John Edwards would have made a far better President than Obama did. If he was first nominated and subsequently elected,we might not be at war today and be experiencing a true recovery indeed,but with Obama,that's not the case!!!.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      Lol. Troll.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Horky

      People are morons, though.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama didn't start either of the present wars and is presently scaling down troops from the Afghan war idiot.

      Obama didn't start either of the present wars and is presenly scaling down troop from the Afghan war. what the hell are you talking about.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JRC

      When are you idiots ever going to understand that it DOES NOT MATTER who the President is that will make things get better. What do you think Presidents do when the nation is in a big crisis and recession, waive a magic wand, gimme a break. There are two controlling parties on each side, sometimes the President gets what he wants and a whole lot of other times he does not. Everyone wants to foul mouth each other like they are in grade school, "its your fault, no, its your fault, no, its your fault"...still kids in mentality, excuses for adults. No action, just mouth off. Daniel, how are you so sure that Edwards would have been a better president than Obama, did you look into a crystal ball, what about all you Republicans and tea party activists and members, did you get a reading from your crystal ball about outdoing the President. Jump in the saddle and ride that horse and see how long you stay on that bucking bronco....

      June 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Vito LaBella

    Mr. Toobin, don't be too concerned over John Edwards' indictment and embarrassment. Rather, feel for all the "little people" who actually believed in him enough at the time to send their hard-earned dollars in to his campaign fund, a fund that he is now very pointedly accused of having misused for personal gain and also for the concealment of an extramarital affair. That is where your sympathy should lie, certainly not with John Edwards.

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

      Great point!

      June 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Yo Vito, has your brain been sleeping with the fishes? I read the indictment (did you?) and so far as I can tell, none of the monies that the campaign collected from rank and file voters was used in any way towards paying off the lady. In fact, the indictment specifies that funds were raised from specific people for that specific purpose. The tables lay out who contributed what and when. It wasn't money from his ordinary supporters but rather powerful people with a vested interest in his candidacy. I think one way or another he's looking at prison time, which serves him right. Mr Clean ain't so clean afterall, which makes you wonder what the freezers of all of the others contain. Frankly, until a Congresscritter's office and home is deemed not to be sancrosanct, there will be piles of money squirreled away within easy reach, tax free and ill-gotten. I'd wager that 90% of our elected 'critters are corrupt. The other 10% are freshmen and haven't YET been bought off.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • US Citizen

      only a fool would give money for someone to spend it on getting elected or someone who would personally benefit. money for hope is a lost cause.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PaulB

    Let's see...He took money (ostensibly for legitimate campaining), and then is indicted for misapprorpiating said money by giving it to a mistress, as well as (possibly) spending that campaign money on other items for personal gain, personal appearence, etc. And Mr. Toobin has a problem with a detailed 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.

    I get the feeling that Mr. Toobin is mixing his law with a touch of personal bias. Any indictment would, by its nature, be damaging. Of course, the defendent would feel it was "insulting". Frankly, I would expect nothing less than " an indictment that really makes the case..." but I believe the phrase "...and really sticks it to the defendant." betrays a highly subjective, and probably very partisan, outlook on the guilt or innocence of Mr. Edwards.

    As a news analyst, Mr.Toobin is within his rights to to speak as he wishes regarding his perception of the case against Mr. Edwards; However, this is more of an opinion article than a news story.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • US Citizen

      he did write it as an opinion.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Deep North

    So because they gave to his campaign fund, does that mean they cannot give to someone/anyone else he knew. If the money never touched the campaign coffers, how can they say it was campaign money technically. Sounds like a private transaction outside of the campaign funds. Rich friends help rich friends all the time!

    June 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    At the end of the Roman Republic politics became all too frequently criminal. Senators counsuls, tribunes, praetors and others were criminally prosecuted and banished for their political actions. A guy by the name of Julius Caesar put and end to the old, creaking, seemingly unchangeable republic when he was so threatened. Republicans and Democrats and We the People have an interest in not even starting down this road.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Don Wattson

    One love-child bearing philanderer lawyer says another love-child bearing philanderer lawyer is being unfairly treated in an attempt to "embarrass" him. Birds of feather are Toobin and Edwards.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Deep North

    WOW..Toobin and Greenfield....Edwards and Hunter...Pot and Kettle!

    June 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    I hate the fact that John Edwards is in the news again. I wish he would just crawl under a rock and die.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tex

    Will someone in the Justice Department please file charges against Robert Higdon Jr for 1) Abuse of Process and 2) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and have him removed from the bar.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom Leykis

    The Feds are out of control. I hope he hands them their &ss. What a waste of resources and funds.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Old Hal

    Sorry Guys, my last sentence should have read.....trying to prove what they "think" Bonds "thought" in the 1990's...

    June 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
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