The Justice Department said on Wednesday it would not retry former U.S. Senator John Edwards on five campaign finance charges that stemmed from his failed 2008 White House bid. By Colleen Jenkins.
Edwards’ trial ended last month with a federal jury acquitting him on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions but deadlocking on five related charges.
Almost immediately, law enforcement sources said prosecutors were unlikely to continue to pursue the case, but the final decision was not announced until Wednesday.
“We knew that this case – like all campaign finance cases – would be challenging,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement. “But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime.”
“The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment,” Breuer said. “In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts.”
Edwards, 59, was accused of seeking more than $900,000 from two wealthy supporters to conceal his pregnant mistress from voters during his bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination four years ago.
Jurors, who deliberated for nine days in Greensboro, North Carolina, said afterward that there was not enough evidence against Edwards to warrant convictions.
In announcing the Justice Department’s dismissal of the remaining charges, Breuer said the government put forward its best case against Edwards, a one-term senator from North Carolina who served as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004.
Edwards’ attorneys said they were grateful for the government’s decision to drop the case.
“We are confident that the outcome of any new trial would have been the same,” the defense attorneys said in a joint statement. “We are very glad that, after living under this cloud for over three years, John and his family can have their lives back and enjoy the peace they deserve.” DM
Photo: Former U.S. Senator John Edwards (C) makes a statement with his daughter, Cate Edwards, father Wallace Edwards (2nd R), and mother Bobbie Edwards (R) as defense attorney Abbe Lowell (L) looks on after the jury reached a verdict at the federal courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina May 31, 2012. Jurors acquitted former U.S. Senator John Edwards on one count of taking illegal campaign contributions on Thursday and the judge declared a mistrial on five other counts because the jury was deadlocked. REUTERS/John Adkisson
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