The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday it would not seek to retry former presidential candidate John Edwards (R-N.C.) on five felony counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions.
The trial of the politician, who was accused of using more than $1 million in campaign donations to hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 presidential run, deadlocked on May 31 when the jury ruled on one one of six charges.
"The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment...and we respect their judgment," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said in a prepared statement. "In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts."
Judge Catherine Eagles on Wednesday then signed an order dismissing all five counts. The trial's jurors said the main reason for the deadlock was the DOJ's inability to prove either that Edwards was aware of the misuse of funds or that funneling the funds to his mistress, Rielle Hunter, was illegal.
Edwards, who claimed he never did anything against the law, did not comment on Wednesday's announcement, leaving it up to his lawyers and daughter to respond.
"As we stated in our motions and arguments in court, the novel theory of campaign law violations charged by the Justice Department is not a crime. It should be addressed, if at all, by the Federal Election Commission, which our evidence showed seems to have agreed with our views on the law," his attorneys Abbe Lowell, Allison Van Laningham and Alan W. Duncan said in a statement.
"While John has repeatedly admitted to his sins, he has also consistently asserted, as we demonstrated at the trial, that he did not violate any campaign law nor even imagined that any campaign laws could apply. We are confident that the outcome of any new trial would have been the same."
Edwards and Hunter had their affair through the 2008 presidential campaign season when Edwards' wife, Elizabeth was battling cancer. She died in December 2010 after releasing her memoirs, "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities."
Edwards' daughter Cate, President of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, remained seated behind him throughout the trial. On Wednesday she simply tweeted, "Big sigh of relief. Ready to move forward with life."
Jurors said the weakest point in the DOJ's case was the testimony of Edwards right-hand man, Andrew Young. Young, who initially claimed the child fathered by campaign staffer and videographer Hunter was his own, used some of the funds gained to build a $1.6 million home with his wife. These and other inconsistencies in his testimony lead him to be a less-than-credible witness for the prosecution, jurors said.
After the trial ended on May 31, Edwards said he was the only one responsible for his sins, adding, "I don't think God's through with me. I really believe he thinks there's still some good things I can do."
Neither Edwards nor Hunter ever took the stand. However, it is clear Hunter will come out with more details about the affair in her tell-all book "What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me" to be released on June 26 and her subsequent scheduled interviews on ABC News.
by RTT Staff Writer
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