John Edwards Case: Incredible vs. Unbelievable
The outcome of the John Edwards trial could well hinge on which hard-to-believe version of reality the jury accepts.
That, and which man with an admitted history of lying—Edwards or his former aide Andrew Young—the jury decides is more likely to be telling the truth about what’s at play in the federal case that got underway here Monday.
Prosecutors argue that the spending of $925,000 to hush up Edwards’s affair with Rielle Hunter is a huge aberration from the otherwise tightly regulated campaign finance limits that put donors’ at a maximum of $2300. They say the campaign finance law at issue in Edwards’s case is “quite simple” and “very simple,” as prosecutor David Harbach said in his opening statement.
That ignores that campaign finance law is in tatters and on the verge of complete irrelevance, with donors able to give virtually unlimited amounts. Just look at casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s given $26.5 million in an apparently fruitless effort to help Newt Gingrich win the presidency. (If only super PACs were around in 2008!) Any juror who knows that wealthy people give millions to get presidential candidates elected is likely to smell a rat if prosecutors suggest that the $925,000 used to keep Hunter in luxury hotels and pay other expenses corrupted the federal campaign finance system, but that far larger amounts aren’t corrupting.
As for the defense, they’re arguing that Edwards had no idea about the hundreds of thousands of dollars Warner-Lambert heir Rachel “Bunny” Mellon spent to hide his mistress at a key time for his presidential bid.