Prosecution of John Edwards ends in a mistrial

By Laurie Bennett

May 31, 2012 at 4:48pm

A federal judge declared a mistrial Thursday after jurors considering the case against John Edwards found him not guilty of one count but were unable to reach agreement on the five other counts.

Edwards had been charged with six felony counts related to alleged violations of campaign finance law, for accepting money from political supporters to pay living costs of his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Afterward, with his daughter Cate and his parents standing next to him, Edwards thanked the jurors for “their incredibly hard work and their diligence. They took their job very, very seriously.”

Edwards also took responsibility for wrongdoing. “I want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice that while I do not believe I did anything illegal … I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong,” he said. “And there is no one else responsible for my sins.”

He expressed gratitude for his children, including “my precious Quinn,” whom he fathered with Hunter.

Edwards also left the door open for some sort of public role in the future, citing his concern for poor children.

“I don’t think God’s through with me,” he said. “I really believe he still thinks there are some good things I can do.”

His attempt to weave his commitment to poor children into his personal story of having children both inside and outside his marriage was jolting. In a subsequent appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Huffington Post editorial director Howard Fineman described it as “pathological.”

The core of the case against Edwards was whether several donations used to cover up his involvement with Hunter were campaign contributions.

Prosecutors argued that the payments were intended to keep the affair quiet and preserve Edwards’s chances for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The defense maintained that Edwards was not involved in the payments from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer who served as campaign finance chairman.

The two gave $925,000, which Edwards’s lawyers said were private gifts designed to keep Elizabeth Edwards from knowing about her husband’s philandering.

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