John Edwards Begins Presenting Defense
Update #1: The FEC concluded an audit last month and found the funds from Baron and Mellon were not campaign contributions, but the Judge wouldn't let the witness testify to that.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles refused to allow Haggard to testify that the FEC determined last July that the money from the two donors wasn't campaign contributions. Prosecutor Jeffrey Tsai argued outside of the jury's presence that the stance of one FEC commissioner was irrelevant to the criminal case.
Haggard was allowed to testify that FEC auditors never asked her to amend campaign finance reports to include the money from Mellon and Baron, even after Edwards was indicted last summer. The audit of the campaign, which was required because Edwards accepted federal campaign matching funds, was finally completed last month, she said.
And the judge still hasn't ruled on whether Edwards' expert can testify. [More...]
The defense in the John Edwards trial is presenting its witnesses. First up was Lora Haggard, who was the controller or CFO of his 2008 campaign. Nicole Ferguson of My Fox 8 has been tweeting from court. Her first tweet:
Edwards' defense came out swinging this morning, and Edwards is smiling.
Later, Ferguson tweeted that defense witness Haggard testified Edwards had no influence over campaign reports submitted to FEC. Haggard took full responsibility for reports. She said the FEC commissioner concluded no excessive contributions had been made, so they didn't need to be reported. Ferguson also said prosecutors were "clearly frustrated" during cross-examination of Haggard and they "argued Haggard [and the] FEC commissioner were not experts in this matter the jury is deciding."
Via Twitter, Haggard said she didn't consider the Mellon or Baron contributions to be campaign contributions, but apparently the parties are now battling over whether she can say what the FEC told her.
MSNBC has posted the full transcript of Friday's hearing on John Edward's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal.
Yesterday, Team Edwards filed its objections to the Government's latest round of proposed jury instructions. I discussed the ones on reasonable doubt in the update to this post.)
The biggest debate now seems to be over the meaning of the word "the" in the campaign finance statute which requires that in order for a contribution or expenditure to be considered a campaign contribution it must be "for the purpose of influencing the election." The Government last week filed a brief arguing that "the purpose" can be one of several purposes. The defense says Congress' use of the word "the" in "the purpose" means influencing the election must be the sole purpose of the donated funds in order for the monies to be considered a campaign contribution.
Since I have my own pleadings due today, instead of writing 3,000 words today as I usually do, I just uploaded the relevant jury instructions and arguments so you can read them for yourself.
- Government's 5/10 Proposed Instructions and Brief
- Defense 5/13 Objections to Government Instructions
- Defense 5/7 Proposed Instructions.
To be continued.
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