No Retrial for John Edwards

John Edwards' long, embarrassing saga into the criminal justice system is over. The Justice Department announced it won't seek to retry him and has moved to dismiss the charges.

DOJ's Lanny Breuer says:

“Last month, the government put forward its best case against Mr. Edwards, and I am proud of the skilled and professional way in which our prosecutors.... conducted this trial,” he said.

Team Edwards says:

“While John has repeatedly admitted to his sins, he has also consistently asserted, as we demonstrated at the trial, that he did not violate any campaign law nor even imagined that any campaign laws could apply,” they said. “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.”


I don't think the prosecutors tried a professional case. Their evidence consisted of the testimony of Andrew Young, who admitted putting donations to his own use and but for singing for his supper, would have been facing criminal charges, and witnesses who did little but broadcast intimate and tawdry details of Edward's affair and marriage, violating even the privacy of his deceased wife. And none of it proved the most critical element in the case: Were the donations campaign contributions within the meaning of the Federal Election Campaign Act?

If they had no better evidence than what they put on, they shouldn't have brought the case, in my view.

The public shaming to which the prosecutors subjected Edwards was unconscionable. When you break the law, the Government has the right to charge you with a crime and punish you if convicted. It does not have the right to destroy you. It's not even obligated to help him rebuild his life.

All of our Edwards trial coverage is accessible here.

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    I think this is great news. I wish he and his (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Angel on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:05:54 PM EST
    family the best.

    Good news (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by ks on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:12:47 PM EST
    Now Edwards can pick up the pieces and move on.  I suspect he will have a good rise from the ashes.

    skilled and professional way? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by sj on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:50:55 PM EST
    I can't believe he said that with a straight face.  

    This is Lanny Breuer speaking. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by scribe on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:34:31 PM EST
    You expected better?

    The government didn't shame Edwards. (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:55:26 PM EST
    Jeralyn: "The public shaming to which the prosecutors subjected Edwards was unconscionable."

    The former senator and V.P. / presidential candidate did that to himself, and all by himself. Nobody forced him to step out and cheat on his ailing wife, or to get on national TV and falsely deny that he had in fact fathered Rielle Hunter's daughter.

    By most all accounts and standards, this was a terribly tawdry and pathetic story, in which nobody comes out of it smelling like a rose -- even 102-year-old Bunny Mellon, who I think I'd really like, were I to ever meet her.

    The federal prosecutors didn't tell us anything that we did not either already know or at least suspect. Rather, they proceeded to restate the painfully obvious, ad nauseum and in tediously salacious detail, even though Edwards' personal behavior and transgressions it really had little or nothing to do with the case they were ostensibly trying in court.

    And frankly, Jeralyn, I fully agree with you that federal prosecutors should be ashamed of themselves, for seeking to make a federal case out of what was really nothing more than a mutually consensual sexual affair.

    They managed to do what I heretofore didn't think was possible, i.e., successfully recast John Edwards as an unfortunate victim of prosecutorial zealotry and overreach. And by doing so, they needlessly inflicted a great deal of emotional distress upon his children and aging parents, who really didn't need to hear and know all the sordid details of his extramarital affair, any more than did the rest of us.

    So, while I'm still sort of angry at Edwards -- and honestly, also at myself as well, for allowing myself to be willingly bamboozled by this blow-dried smooth talker -- now that this is over, I'm very pleased that he's now been exonerated on all charges, and I truly bear him no ill will and wish him all the best.

    Edwards certainly has his work cut out for him on the home front. The best thing he can do now is to step off the national stage, and try to do an awful lot of fence mending.

    He needs to make amends with the surviving members of his family, and do right by all his children, especially his two younger children by Elizabeth. After all, they're adolescents who've recently lost their mother, and they really need a daddy right now, a lot more than -- in admitted retrospect -- we ever needed him in Washington or on the presidential campaign trail.


    That's a crock (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by sj on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:59:55 PM EST
    The government didn't shame Edwards.
    Edwards didn't drag himself to court and hold out all the tawdry details out there for everyone to spit on.  

    He took actions that hurt his family.  And that's where that should have stayed.  The government didn't need to continue to hurt and shame that poor family.  


    Yup. The public had long moved on. (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by ruffian on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 07:28:42 PM EST
    Very well said (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:56:09 PM EST
    I agree entirely.

    And as for the kids, there isn't the slightest indication he has any major-league mending to do.  By every indication I've read, he's already done that.  And the fact that he has and that his older child, who's the only one, rightly, who's been in public, stands with him so strongly tells its own story.

    So did Chelsea Clinton with her dad.

    It's a HUGE mistake to assume that sexual infidelity automatically also includes bad parenting.


    Disagree with you Donald. (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by Angel on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:09:22 PM EST
    The government's charges against John Edwards were about campaign donations yet the government chose to make the trial about the extramarital affair and all of the related tawdry and sordid details.  It was  despicable, nothing but salacious detail after salacious detail presented to the jury.  Andrew and Cheri Young should have been on trial, not John Edwards.

    National Inquirer (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 09:31:44 PM EST
    The National Inquirer and other tabloids made the "related and sordid details" public years ago.  The details were picked up by the mainstream media.  

    The... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 10:23:09 AM EST
    ...tabloids are well... the tabloids, and not the same as open court testimony.

    I think the point here isn't whether anyone knew of details, but introducing them proved absolutely nothing.  It was unnecessary and to me it was clear they wanted to disgust the jury into hating Edwards enough to find him guilty because they didn't have good evidence.

    The fact the money intended for the purpose they claimed was a crime, was actually stole by the Young's to build a house made the entire case laughable.  The Young's stole nearly a million bucks and got a pass for testifying.

    I would think someone is going to take the Young's to court of the cash, no ?  They don't get to keep it just because they weren't charged, right.


    Well, that was sort of my point - we all knew the (none / 0) (#12)
    by Angel on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 09:38:02 PM EST
    details, it wasn't some revelation that the government needed to introduce at trial.  Edwards had already been convicted of being a cad in the court of public opinion.  The trial was supposed to be about illegal shenanigans related to campaign funds.  

    In my humble opinion (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:48:14 PM EST
    Mr. Edwards is very fortunate the government chose not to subpoena Ms. Mellon for trial. Also, I think the statement released on Mr. Edwards' behalf is too self aggrandizing by half. Humble understatement would fly better.

    Tell me (none / 0) (#17)
    by sj on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 11:24:29 AM EST
    Describe the sort of "humble understatement" that would fly better with you?  What would be humble enough?  And what should he have left out so that it wouldn't be so self-aggrandizing?

    No need to wordsmith, a general idea would do.


    Work in progress: (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 01:49:21 PM EST
    Mr. Edwards is extremely pleased this matter has now been resolved by dismissal of the remaining charges following jury acquittal on one charge.  He asks that everyone respect the privacy of him and his family.  Thank you very much.  

    That, in a nutshell, is what (none / 0) (#20)
    by sj on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:40:36 PM EST
    he said.  I don't think it's necessary to go as small as a nutshell.

    Ha. Well, I think he could have omitted (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:41:34 PM EST
    the neener neener.  

    And ... (none / 0) (#22)
    by sj on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 03:05:56 PM EST
    ... I didn't hear one of those.  Not saying it wasn't there.  I'm saying I didn't hear it.  So I don't know what you are talking about.

    John Edwards (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by barbarajmay on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 12:10:30 PM EST
    I hope he reads your column, Jeralyn.  I wish him well and I am sorry and ashamed that my government put him through this.  I hope to see him continue to fight for the underprivileged.

    Jeralyn... (none / 0) (#13)
    by bmaz on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 09:52:17 PM EST
    I agree with every word you said.

    thanks, Bmaz (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:34:07 PM EST
    I've been agreeing with you a lot lately too!