Patterico's Pontifications


Breaking: John Edwards Indicted

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:26 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Just got this from Cnn’s breaking news email.  Edwards has been indicted.  Expect updates.

Update: Surely this post from last night and the attached article will give you some insight into the issue.

Update (II): More here, and the indictment, here.  Thanks to Beldar in the comments for linking the indictment.

Update (III): If you are reading the indictment and are not sure who person A, B, C, etc. are, this article sorts it out for you.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

50 Responses to “Breaking: John Edwards Indicted”

  1. This is gonna really hurt his political career I think.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  2. mmm, at this point, i think he could be found with a dead hooker and it would not harm his political career. it is literally impossible to harm his political prospects at this point, i think.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  3. thanks beldar.

    btw, i think somewhere, Weiner is saying… “thank God. something, anything to knock me out of the news cycle.”

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  4. These kind of things are resume enhancers for dems.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  5. The best comment I’ve heard about this case came from a Democratic strategist. He called Edwards the Charlies Sheen of politics; great hair, but no chance of a comeback.

    Steve (cabe23)

  6. That’s a slap to the face of Charley Sheen.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  7. steve

    lol follow the link.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  8. this resonates with weiner’s plight too much to be all too distracting I think

    it’s more like now we have a leitmotif

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  9. I heard rumors that John Edward could close nuclear power plants with his mind.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  10. Okay, I’ve read it now, and my hipshot reaction is that I’m somewhat underwhelmed.

    The whole case seems to turn on whether the slush funds were “contributions” to, or “expenditures” on behalf of, the Edwards campaign within the meaning of 2 U.S.C. §§ 431(8) & (9).

    Under section 431(8), “contributions” include “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” Likewise, under section 431(9), “expenditures” include “any purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value, made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” But by contrast, under section 431(17), an “independent expenditure” includes one “that is not made in concert or cooperation with or at the request or suggestion of such candidate, the candidate’s authorized political committee, or their agents, or a political party committee or its agents.”

    Then there’s also 2 U.S.C. § 439a(b), which prohibits the “conversion” of contributions “by any person to personal use.” It’s considered “personal use” if “the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.”

    These are the sort of defined terms that would ultimately be tracked in the court’s charge to the jury at the end of a trial, which in turn drives the presentation of evidence and argument. Certainly there can’t be any dispute that the payments were valuable, but Edwards can be expected to dispute that they were made for the purpose of influencing the presidential election. He’ll try to fit through the “independent expenditures” window, and he’ll argue that he had no “commitment, obligation, or expense[s]” in connection to Hunter “that would [have] exist[ed] irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.”

    The conspiracy and false statement counts are premised on the election law violation counts and likely cannot stand without them.

    Any time conviction depends on intent, and the same act may be legal or illegal depending solely on the intention with which it was undertaken, there are inherent defensive opportunities. Edwards may end up being forced to argue, “I would have engaged in this scheme anyway, to protect my marriage and my general reputation, and therefore none of this was intended “for the purpose of influencing” the election. I think that’s a losing argument at least eight times out of ten, but there’s enough of a chance of acquittal that some desperate defendants who aren’t squeezed by defense costs might decide to throw the dice.

    Beldar (9d5838)

  11. Please note: I’m not saying I think Edwards ought to be acquitted, or that the feds have a weak case overall. To the contrary, the feds seem to have details on a whole bunch of large financial transactions that could certainly support a conviction. And it will be easy for the feds to argue that Edward’s obvious intent was to keep his presidential campaign from being torpedoed. He has a vastly harder sale — so hard that you’d expect his efforts to fail at least eight out of ten times — in trying to persuade the jury that it was essentially a coincidence that he engineered and then hid all this stuff for unrelated reasons while he happened to also be running for president.

    I’m just saying that the fact that all the crimes charged by the government so heavily depend on proving a particular intent may encourage him to roll the dice and reject a plea. If, as Aaron and others have suggested, he’s already inclined, for reasons of egotism, to put his trust in scenarios in which he sweet-talks the jury, this indictment doesn’t necessarily go very far in ruling out those scenarios.

    Beldar (9d5838)

  12. Let me add in one other factor that I think would undercut Edwards’ challenge to the characterization of these payments as campaign-related “contributions” and “expenditures”:

    Edwards is a wealthy man. Prosecutors may be expected to argue that if these “mistress expenses” weren’t related to his campaign, if they were instead payments that were just to save Edwards’ marriage or overall reputation rather than to influence the election, Edwards should have, and could have, paid them out of his own pocket.

    Instead, he financed this through favors from people who were already his political contributors and the most enthusiastic supporters of his campaign. Add in the circumstances out of which the affair grew — Hunter making a “campaign video” — and it would seem to become very difficult indeed for Edwards to credibly insist that neither he nor his co-conspirators ever intended to influence the election by these arrangements.

    Beldar (9d5838)

  13. that kinda suggests Elizabeth kept a close eye on Johnny’s checkbook

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  14. Edwards should have fathomed that the politically correct thing to do would be to have had a homosexual affair in Lurch and Barney Fag’s home state. Maybe he could have knocked up a lesbian or transsexual. But doesn’t he have enough money to avoid a prison term in any case. What are those dead children telling him to do? Can he not also communicate with his deceased wife Elizabeth? And how do doctors feel about those malpractice jury awards that made the Silk Pony so rich? I know there are several physicians here.

    Someone should do a where are now update on some of the women instrumental in pols’ past scandals. You know, like Fannie Foxe or the Monkey Business boat lady Donna-something.I know there was a site that talked about fat Teddy’s and other Kennedys’ women. And was the mother of the Breck Girl’s child the only one he fooled around with on his wife? And surely Schwarzenegger had younger, juicer playmates through the years than the one whose husband just brought lawsuit against Arnie?

    Calypso Louie Farrakhan (cc9029)

  15. News vans are all over the place. He’s scheduled to go to court at 2:30 pm, which is one block from me.

    Slow day at work…. maybe I’ll photobomb.

    Kman (5576bf)

  16. Beldar, I’m no lawyer, but I’d estimate it’s a losing argument 9 times out of 10 when the “to protect my marriage” argument is in the context of stepping out on a wife dying of uncontrolled, now stage 4 cancer to become a baby daddy.

    From the timeline, Edwards knocked up “person B” after finding out he found out Elizabeth only had 2 to 3 years to live.

    There are words to describe a man who does that, which I can’t use here. But the words “a man who wants to protect his marriage” aren’t any of them.

    It seems to me this falls into the same category of chutpah as a kid found guilty of killing his parents begging for leniency because now he’s just poor orphan.

    Steve (cabe23)

  17. That’d be “chutzpah.”

    Steve (cabe23)

  18. Did Edwards sleep with AG Holder’s significant other? It would certainly explain the, ahem, *enthusiasm* in the language of the indictment.

    M. Scott Eiland (0d2060)

  19. my understanding is that there’s a sex tape of johnny what is even more graphic than a weinertweet

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  20. happyfeet, I can’t imagine anything demonstrating how much a man wants to protect his marriage than filming his romps with his mistress.

    Family man!

    Steve (cabe23)

  21. Btw, beldar, your comments should so totally be a post on your blog.

    Just sayin. you know i welcome your contribution, but i just think you deserve more of the glory.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  22. Steve (#16), those are good points. My working assumption has always been, though, that any defense strategy for Edwards necessarily includes admitting to the jury — and indeed, being forced to admit over and over again — that Edwards is a world-class jerk. They’ll put lipstick on the pig, they’ll have him sob from the witness stand about how ashamed he is, yada yada.

    Even scum like Edwards get the benefit of very powerful instructions by the court to the jury that they’re not to allow passion to sway them, and that they’re only to consider the defendant’s guilt or innocence on the specific crimes charged, every element of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And although my 30 years of trial experience are in the civil courts rather than their criminal counterparts, I believe — and I think most prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers would agree — that most juries, most of the time, actually try their best to put aside their emotional reactions and to follow the court’s instructions.

    Even Edwards’ very best-case scenarios — certainly any scenario in which he’s acquitted, but also any scenario in which he ends up being sentenced to less than he’d have done on the best plea offered — he’s going to have to go through spectacular public humiliation.

    But the fact that such scenarios exist at all means that the prosecution, too, has some risk of losing, and therefore some incentive to engage in serious plea discussions. Now that the feds are on record with a multi-count indictment — albeit one that doesn’t obviously overcharge — I expect there will be some serious negotiating. I continue to think Edwards’ intrinsic cowardice will eventually overcome his [massive] ego, but that’s just a guess.

    [Corrected by Aaron.]

    Beldar (9d5838)

  23. LOL, calling Dr. Freud. Meant “massive ego.” (It’s Al Gore who likes to get massages.)

    Beldar (9d5838)

  24. beldar

    fixed it for you with my administrative superpowers.

    but i left your comment correcting yourself because i like the gore joke.


    do it, seriously. take photos and post it on your blog. and then link to it…

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  25. kmart has a blog? I did not know that. /johnny carson

    Old Coot (742fe8)

  26. My favorite detail in the indictment is in paragraph 30 on page 11:

    … Person D provided money to Person A in or about December 2007 in an envelope that also contained a note from Person D to Person A that read, “Old Chinese saying: use cash not credit cards!”

    Thus do very weak jokes become solid documentary evidence of “guilty mind” (knowledge that a crime’s being committed) and intent to conceal. There will have to be a solid, independent evidentiary predicate laid to show the existence and purpose of the conspiracy before this note will be admissible against Edwards. But I suspect the prosecution is pretty confident it can get there.

    Beldar (9d5838)

  27. Beldar, I understand as a juror I’m not supposed to let passion effect my decision. I wasn’t saying I’d make a decision based upon my emotional reaction to his behavior at that time or sympathy for Elizabeth. But I’m equally not going to be swayed by any emotional reaction to Edwards’ behavior in the courtroom when he and his legal team try to mount a sympathy defense.

    Purely from a rational perspective, he’s goint to have to convince the jury that his conduct was driven primarily by a concern to protect his marriage. And not by his concern to protect his candidacy.

    That’d be a tough sell for anyone who’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer months before getting his mistress pregnant. But even more so for Edwards given the media exposure he sought while simultaneously compaigning and engaging in this ongoing affair.

    At least, I presume that’s why the government discussed in paragraph one how his campaign characterized him as a “family man” who put “family first.” They intend to rebut the argument they, you, and I expect him to make in court. Knowing what we know now, those public statements were untrue when he made them.

    Unless his defense team can somehow keep the whole issue away from the jury. Again, I’m not a lawyer, but if the government puts that in the first paragraph doesn’t that show the government wants the jury to consider it? And wouldn’t it be relevant?

    It’s not passion I’m talking about; it’s how believable he’ll be when he breaks down in tears on the stand and talks about how important protecting his marriage was to him.

    Steve (cabe23)

  28. R.E. #27, speaking of jokes (maybe). The first thing that crossed my mind was maybe “person D” learned that “old Chinese saying” while slipping Al Gore illegal campaign cash when he was meeting with donors at those Buddhist temples back in ’96.

    She may even have learned it from Maria Hsia herself, convicted of 5 felony counts for funneling foreign campaign contributions at that same fundraiser.

    Steve (cabe23)

  29. Steve (#28), we don’t disagree. You’re right — there’s quite a bit in the indictment which amounts to the government anticipating what it thinks Edwards’ likely defenses will be. And jurors, being human, often fail to put aside their passions despite their best efforts.

    I’m assuming Andrew Young (a/k/a Person A) and others will give powerful and direct evidence of the conspiracy. I’m also assuming that Edwards would have a strong incentive to waive his Fifth Amendment privilege and take the stand in his own defense to try to rebut that kind of evidence. I entirely agree that the admissions he’ll have to make — including admissions of many, many lies and indisputable acts of intentional deception — will thoroughly impeach his credibility. And I share your assumption, and the assumption implicit in the indictment, that the trial court would permit both prosecutors and Edwards with very wide latitude in offering evidence pertaining to motive, credibility, and surrounding circumstances.

    Beldar (9d5838)

  30. As a tangential observation, the Silky Pony could sure use some pointers from the Underwear Boner.

    ropelight (d5403b)

  31. Here is a video of Edwards attorney (and former WH counsel) Greg Craig laying out their defense. His first point (consistent with my expectation, see #11 above) is that the whole case stands or falls on whether these payments were “contributions” within the meaning of the campaign finance laws. Obviously they’re going to contend that it was purely a coincidence that some of the payments came from the one-time finance chairman of Edwards’ campaign, the late Fred Baron; I presume they’ll argue that Baron’s friendship with Edwards (as fellow plaintiffs’ personal injury contingent fee lawyers) long pre-dated Edwards’ campaign for the 2008 Dem presidential nomination.

    His second point is that there’s no claim of any misuse of campaign funds. And that’s true, they weren’t quite stupid enough to run the mistress payments through campaign accounts or declare them as campaign contributions; so this is really just a restatement of the first point, a nice talking point that will evaporate in about the first 10 minutes of any actual trial because it’s not relevant to what has been charged.

    His third point is that there’s no precedent for a prosecution of this sort (by which I presume he means, a prosecution specifically about mistress money), and that therefore, no one should have been expected to think that these payments might be considered campaign contributions under federal election finance laws. That’s ridiculous: I’ve quoted the relevant statutory language above, and even a non-lawyer can see that there’s at least some serious possibility that these payments might be considered to have been for the “purpose of influencing [the] election.” Edwards is himself a lawyer, and had lawyers who are election-law specialists already engaged and working on other compliance issues.

    So yeah, their defense comes down to: “These payments weren’t intended to influence the election.”

    Beldar (9d5838)

  32. The reason I think Edwards should be convicted is that running for president is complex. These candidates are sophisticated. The laws are well understood.

    It is completely fair to expect serious candidates to understand the law and proactively abide by it. Edwards had senior campaign staff taking the fall, hiding the child and mother, and they were not doing that for Elizabeth Edwards. His campaign allies and donors were interested in politics.

    They knew this was about saving his campaign for President. I’m happy to let a jury decide the matter, but I don’t see a good reason to doubt that, if the evidence stands up.

    Then, Edwards can appeal these rules as unconstitutional, which I think they are. If I want to help a candidate somehow, I don’t really think the government should be able to monitor it so tightly. Reasonable people disagree on this point, but until this concept is ruled unconstitutional, we have to make sure everyone is held to the same law. Otherwise, corrupt candidates have a huge advantage over honest ones.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  33. Beldar

    yeah, we were thinking the same thing. i plan to update it with analysis using that chinese saying in the new title.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  34. Skimming my past posts on Edwards, I came upon one whose title, based on an Edwards quote from 2008, very vividly demonstrates Edwards’ hypertrophied ego as a trial lawyer — the same ego that Aaron argues will be likely to lead Edward to reject a plea and roll the dice at trial: “I will beat these people, just like I’ve been beating them for my whole life.” The guy certainly has talked a brave, bold game in the past.

    Beldar (9d5838)

  35. I repeat the objection I made in the previous thread: Either bimbo payments are a legitimate campaign expense or they are not. If they are, then how can he be accused of diverting campaign funds to personal use? And if they are not, then how can this money have been a contribution in the first place. The prosecution wants to eat its cake and have it.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  36. milhouse

    read the indictment. they aren’t talking about using campaign money for personal use.

    they are talking about using 1) undeclared contributions (because no one reported the hush money), in amounts exceeding the spending limits.

    So they aren’t saying you aren’t allowed to use that money for personal uses. just that you can’t hide the donations and accept more than $2,500 per person (he was getting about a million total from two people for the hush money).

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  37. the same ego that Aaron argues will be likely to lead Edward to reject a plea and roll the dice at trial

    I dunno. He may not want to go to any sort of Federal prison while nationally known by the nickname, “the Breck girl.”

    Steve (cabe23)

  38. Say, how would the DoJ proceed on this matter under Shariah?

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  39. Under Shariah? They’d probably say there has been no crime.

    Jay Stevens (4638e0)

  40. #19 – Maybe the demmy dimms have some pretty boy jellies going on, and they need to show what kind of punishment shall come if you get caught and embarrass severely the giant demo machine, that of course includes the MSM, who fell prey to a TABLOID WHIPPING THEM, another gigantic exposure of their immense demo and left leaning bias…

    Now the tabloid must never be ignored again on plausible matters… wow someone needs to be really punished…

    This prosecution makes the O admin and their sick pale mustached pencil idiot look even more crooked than before.
    It’s all about sex, you IDIOTS – while overseas and acorn boy wonder slut obama skates…

    BAD move injustice department.

    SiliconDoc (7ba52b)

  41. ” His third point is that there’s no precedent for a prosecution of this sort (by which I presume he means, a prosecution specifically about mistress money), and that therefore, no one should have been expected to think that these payments might be considered campaign contributions under federal election finance laws. ”

    Sounds good enough for me – but then special targeted prosecutions and anything goes under the law of the AG or DA is what we have now – forget any humnaly understandable rules.. AFTER the fact and incidents we’ll pick and choose some new things to go gung ho on…

    He would just as likely have paid the honey or had the honey paid, without a campaign. CASE CLOSED. Especially from a close buddy who he could do favors for and “pay back over time” that way – which I’m sure Uncle Sam wants some taxes for…

    SCREW IT – just execute him, we all know he deserves it under the ten thousand loophole crimes.

    SiliconDoc (7ba52b)

  42. 37. ” just that you can’t hide the donations and accept more than $2,500 per person (he was getting about a million total from two people for the hush money”

    Am I to assume he has a tax loophole – or perhaps this is the govey’s way of making claim to every dime or million bucks…
    I’m really SICK of the feddies having their fingers in everyone’s pie.
    Now pretty boy can’t even get it on and make her happy without the SEX AND MONEY PO PO sticking their big fat beaks into the matter.
    He got a half bill each from two buds to keep his honey happy – the fact that none of them are going to blabber about the humping is a GIVEN with or without any millionaires happy dollars – and let’s face it mr 60 million has a lot of happy dollars and happy dollar friends…

    I wonder how the greasy society thinks it’s any of their business, let alone the government’s, if Hair Schmoe mr big bucks scores a nice wad for his new lover and child… yes apparently it is so much their tyrannistic business that they get some time they say.

    SiliconDoc (7ba52b)

  43. One more thing, then I’ll shut up. Take a look at her, then take a look at his sixty mill, then take a look at they had a child, and anyone here tell me with a straight face she doesn’t get a cool million…in fact he cheaped out.
    I simply do not agree with the prosecution. I don’t agree with Edwards hiding his affair – his child – or pressuring his staff or them pressuring him to keep it all mum – but that’s how it goes in life and is not out of the ordinary nor is it related to governing matters – of which our potus issued a gigantic lie at his big speech before being called a liar out loud – which to me is far, far more worthy of high crime than pretty boys’ love affair and money management skills.
    Doesn’t Oliar hide much more even to this day ? YES
    If we want this kind of crap in a courtroom, let’s outlaw adultery again. Then we can prosecute for poking around while married.
    Nope, instead we get THIS CRAP. Uncle Sam wants their TAX CUT, so they have to get their fat greedy paws in there somehow – or worse, they got their taxes already, now they want to put the screws to mr embarrassing democrat…
    WHATEVER – who knows – maybe their motive is powa because we can….
    In any case, it SICKENS ME.

    SiliconDoc (7ba52b)

  44. Thank you New york Post: ” Edwards was a gifted orator who stirred audiences with his advocacy for the poor and the common man.

    But he turned out to be a sleazy fraud and hypocrite.

    It was five years ago — on June 7, 2007, to be exact — that Edwards, sounding as sincere and earnest as a multimillionaire trial lawyer can, instructed the nation’s dads on how to uphold family values, as he accepted a Father of the Year award in Manhattan.

    “It’s true: Your children learn not just from what you say but from what you do,” he told the National Father’s Day Committee attendees.

    What Edwards didn’t say to the guests at the Sheraton New York luncheon was that he had been having an affair for more than a year with his blond campaign aide.

    Read more:
    It’s nice to see one publication explaining what TRASH is selected for demo VP.

    SiliconDoc (7ba52b)

  45. Hotair had this piece today which will surprise no one. They claim that Edwards turned down a plea bargain for misdemeanors.

    Narcissitic moron who almost became VP.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  46. What about the other crooked politicians who have been known to do wrong ? What has been done to them for their wrong doing? Where are they indictments?This man did no more wrong then anyone else has done. Please let him alone and give him another chance.

    meredith gresham (212834)

  47. Meredith, the prosecution’s theory is a bit of a stretch but not an unreasonable interpretation of the campaign finance laws.

    And the Democrats have been claiming that campaign finance laws are what is going to preserve democracy … ** snort, laugh **

    So why would the Breck girl be immune?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  48. Oh crap. That was for a different thread.

    /hangs self

    Dustin (c16eca)

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