John Edwards Lunches With Bunny Mellon
The media seems surprised that John Edwards had lunch yesterday with 100 year old heiress Bunny Mellon, who was a grand jury witness in his soon-to-be criminal case. Edwards' attorney says the visit was purely personal and they didn't discuss his legal situation.
First, there's no secrecy rule imposed on witnesses to a federal grand jury. The secrecy rule pertains to Government prosecutors and their agents. Second, it's not the first time Edwards visited Bunny Mellon since the probe started. He flew up to see her in December, 2009.
According to CBS News today, it ultimately may be quite important for Edwards to show he has had a continuing personal relationship with Bunny Mellon since his campaign ended. Here's why: [More...]
Edwards' legal team argues that the prosecution's theory is unprecedented and wrong. They say there is only one case involving gifts to federal candidates that's even remotely comparable...
....In that case, the FEC said a proposed gift to a federal candidate was illegal because the donor wouldn't have made it if the candidate weren't running for office. Edwards, on the other hand, had long-standing personal relationships with donors Fred Baron and Bunny Mellon that continued after he withdrew from the race. In fact, Edwards had lunch with Mellon on Thursday.
CBS reports the grand jury could return an Indictment on Wednesday. I just checked the PACER entries for the Raleigh division, and it seems indictments were returned May 10, 18 and 25. According to the court's website, grand juries there meet monthly, usually for one or two days. I don't know how many grand juries they have empaneled at a time. If it's four, there could be an indictment the first week in June. If there's only three, it sounds like it wouldn't be until the second week in June.
Having never been a prosecutor, I don't know what the U.S. attorney sends to Main Justice when seeking permission to proceed -- whether it's a draft of the proposed indictment, or just a request to proceed. Since they sound ready to go, it's probable they already drafted the Indictment and all they need are the grand jurors' votes.
If the U.S. Attorney is demanding a plea to a felony count, I suspect John Edwards will fight. I hope he does. Regardless of your opinion of John Edwards and his personal life, he's the sole parent now to two young children. Mistreating a donation as a gift (particularly if you relied on the advice of your legal counsel in doing so), when there is a paucity of court decisions defining the difference between them, seems over the top.
If Edwards is offering to plead to a misdemeanor and probation, the Government should grab his proffered ounce of flesh and forego insisting on a pound. The only reason to demand a felony is to justify the cost of the Government's absurdly lengthy and intrusive investigation.
The Edwards' investigation is iffy on the law and relies on the testimony of a witness, Andrew Young, who has as much if not more baggage than John Edwards (and more credibility problems), albeit for different reasons; a witness who is now 100 years old; and a ditzy (putting it as charitably as possible) paramour.
The only positive thing about this investigation coming to a close is the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney can now move on and Obama's replacement choice can be confirmed. Both of North Carolina's senators asked to delay confirming Obama's nominee until this probe wrapped up.
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