The United States is arguing former presidential candidate John Edwards “planted seeds of destruction” during his bid for president in 2008. He recruited others to help cover his affair with a former aide as well.
During closing arguments of the trial, prosecutors said Edwards “lied and manipulated staffers and friends to make sure the “nasty little evidence” of his affair with Rielle Hunter didn’t come to light”. This, from Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon, was just the beginning of what Higdon told jurors in closing arguments today in a federal courtroom in North Carolina.
Respected and Idolized
He also reiterated the government’s belief in the number of witnesses who understood and then agreed that if the secrets got out, they would annihilate his efforts of becoming president. Speaking about Edwards’ close friend, Higdon continued,
Andrew Young showed no hesitation to do anything and everything to serve the man he respected and idolized.
The North Carolina resident, former senator and one time presidential hopeful, Edwards, 58, is accused of illegally using almost $1 million in campaign contributions to hide an affair with a woman that produced a child. Rielle Hunter, who’s now an unemployed filmmaker, used funds and credit cards, provided by the Edwards camp, to cover her personal expenses. Edwards continues to content the monies came from Rachel Melton, a 100 year old multimillionaire heiress. He also states some funds came from an attorney, who has since died.
In giving instructions to the jury, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said the government did not have to prove the money at the heart of the case was for the sole benefit of promoting Edwards’s presidential campaign. She said people rarely “act with only one purpose in mind.”
She continued by reminding jurors they could find Edwards guilty if they believe he “deliberately closed his eyes” to the money – whether cash, credit cards or other financial sources – that was being given to Hunter on his behalf and what she referred to as “elaborate plans undertaken to shield Hunter from the media spotlight.” Jurors also may find Edwards acted knowingly, if not willfully, to disregard what would have otherwise been obvious, she concluded.
The vast majority of the month long trial was focused on the role of Edwards’s former campaign manager. That manager testified only after immunity was extended. He then told the court that he helped plan and coordinate multiple transactions between Edwards, Baron and Mellon over a period of months. He testified that Edwards targeted other supporters before agreeing to Mellon and assured him the plan to support Hunter was legal.
For his testimony against his one time best friend, Edwards and team then claimed Young as little more than an opportunist who took it upon himself to approach the aging millionaire and then used the majority of money she proffered for vacations for himself and his family. They also contend he bought cars and a million dollar home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“Andrew Young will make up whatever he wants and the government will build a case on it,” Edwards’ lawyer said during closing statements.
John Edwards’s conduct in his affair was shameful but it’s human. Andrew Young’s lies in this case were worse.
Edwards at no time took the stand to testify for himself. The only family member on the list of possible witnesses, Cate, was also not called to testify.
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