UPDATE: John Edwards’ defense team has rested its case. Neither Edwards, his mistress Rielle Hunter, nor his daughter Cate were called up to testify.
Closing arguments are set to begin on Thursday.
(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — The nearly $1 million in donations used to hide John Edwards’ mistress and love child were not campaign contributions, the Federal Election Commission concluded, according to documents filed in Edwards’ trial.
The FEC audit of Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign was submitted to the court by Edwards’ defense team on Tuesday.
Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy backers Fred Baron and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon to keep his affair secret to protect his presidential ambitions and later his hopes of winning a spot as vice president or attorney general.
Edwards’ lawyers are asking the judge to admit an audio recording of the July 2011 FEC meeting when the audit was closed.
Defense lawyers say the recording shows Commissioner Donald McGahn stating, “It’s odd for me to say that the transaction is a campaign transaction” and “I’m not sure that [the monies paid by Mellon and Baron are] a reportable. Actually I can say [the monies are] not a report, in my view, not reportable.”
The commission voted unanimously to close the audit.
One of those commissioners, Scott Thomas, was on the witness stand at Edwards’ trial Tuesday morning. However, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles would not allow Thomas to tell jurors his view on how the law applied to what Edwards’ allegedly did in 2007 and 2008. Eagles has said the jury should decide, without guidance from experts, what the purpose of the gifts were.
Attention in the courtroom on Wednesday, however, will not be on documents. Observers will be holding their breath to see if Edwards’ mistress Rielle Hunter, or even John Edwards himself, takes the stand.
Both are on the defense team’s list of possible witnesses for Wednesday, although experts are skeptical that Edwards’ lawyers are willing to put the unpredictable Hunter on the stand or would allow Edwards to be subjected to cross examination by prosecutors.
One person likely to take the stand before the defense wraps up its case this week is Edwards’ daughter Cate.
Cate Edwards, 30, has sat behind her father through almost every day of testimony leaving only when a witness described her mother Elizabeth’s emotional anguish at discovering Edwards’ illicit affair and illegitimate child.
Cate may corroborate her father’s story that the financial donations were meant as gifts to enable Edwards to hide the affair from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.
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