Justice Department drops Edwards case

June 13, 2012 at 5:59 PM
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GREENSBORO, N.C., June 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department Wednesday said it is dropping the remaining five counts of campaign-finance violations against former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.

"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 from the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina conducted this trial," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement.

"The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment. In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts."

Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was found not guilty on one felony count of accepting illegal campaign contributions during his 2008 bid for the presidency from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to hide his affair and lovechild with videographer Rielle Hunter while his wife, Elizabeth, was dying of cancer. The jury deadlocked on the remaining five felony counts, causing the judge to declare a mistrial.

"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," defense attorneys Abbe Lowell, Allison Van Laningham and Alan Duncan said in a statement. "We are confident that the outcome of any new trial would have been the same. 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."

Edwards' oldest daughter, Cate, who was at his side throughout the trial, tweeted: "Big sigh of relief. Ready to move forward with life."

Hunter has written a memoir about the affair titled "What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter and Me," which will be published this month by BenBella Books.

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