Only because I have to write about it - The John Edwards trial fiasco
Writing about Edwards makes me feel as if I've pawed through a garbage dump. I always want to wash my hands afterward.
I knew after 3 days of deliberations by the jury that they'd either be hung or acquit him. The fact that John Edwards was acquitted on only one of six counts of campaign finance fraud and conspiracy while the judge declared a mistrial on the five other charges speaks to the complexity of the case and the prosecution's failure to adequately explain Edwards' crimes to the jury.
"I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong," he said. "I am responsible. I don't have to go any further than the mirror. It's me and me alone."
But he was not guilty of using campaign funds to hide those sins, he said.
Certainly, Mr. Edwards has lost in the court of public opinion. But on Thursday he was vindicated, for the moment, by a jury of mostly working class North Carolinians who could not reach a verdict on the five charges of campaign finance fraud and conspiracy he faced.
They acquitted him on one, which was based on a $200,000 check that the heiress Rachel Mellon had written him in January 2008, the month he dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president. The result was seen as a setback for the Justice Department's public integrity section, the watchdog agency that has struggled to rebuild itself.
The Justice Department offered no indication on whether it would retry Mr. Edwards.
Unless it decides to do so, the verdict and mistrial end one of the most scandalous chapters in the history of presidential campaigning, weaving in a hidden child, an ambitious would-be first lady dying of cancer, secret money from ultrarich supporters and legal scrutiny of the laws that regulate how money given to candidates for office can be used.
We saw something similar in the trial of impeached Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Blago's first trial ended in a hung jury on all but one of the 23 counts when the prosecution made the case far too complicated for the panel to follow. After reducing the number of charges, and vastly simplifying the evidence presented, the retrial found the former governor guilty on 17 more counts.
Edwards' punishment will never fit the pain and suffering he caused his dying wife, nor the sins he committed of getting his underlings to try and take the fall for him. But being made an object of ridicule and disapprobation goes along way to balancing the books on a man so ethically challenged and morally corrupt.
Thomas Lifson adds:
Unlike Rick, I think the more attention paid the better. I read the book written by his lying asistant, Andrew Young, The Politician. The most damning aspects of the book for me related to the personal behavior of Edwards, the sainted late Elizabeth, and Rielle. They deserve each other, for they all come across as self-centered, manipulative, high handed toward those beneath them, and somewhat grandiose.
They were embraced by the Democratic Party, and were serious contenders for the White House. The more that comes out about the phony populism of Edwards, the better.
Note that Edwards said that God wasn't done with him, that He has other plans. I take that as a declaration that Edwards will pose as a Chuck Colson. I was skeptical about Colson at first, but observing his consistent behavior over the years convinced me of his sincerity. Edwards will face a lot more skepticism than Colson, who served time in prison and devoted his life to the Prison Fellowship.