(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department has dropped its case against John Edwards and will not retry the former presidential candidate on charges that he used nearly $1 million in campaign funds to hide his mistress and love child during his 2008 bid for the White House.
Edwards last month was found “not guilty” on one count of violating campaign finance rules by a North Carolina jury. On five other counts the jury was deadlocked and a federal judge declared a mistrial, opening the door to another trial.
Today’s announcement from federal prosecutors ended any prospect of another trial.
“The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement.
“In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts.”
Edwards’ attorney Abbe Lowell hailed the department’s decision to forgo a retrial.
“We are grateful that the Justice Department, after hearing from the jury, has dismissed the remaining charges in this case. As we stated in our motions and arguments in court, the novel theory of campaign law violations charged by the Justice Department is not a crime,” Lowell said in a statement.
Edwards was accused of soliciting nearly $1 million from two wealthy donors from 2007 to 2008 and using that money to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter while running for president.
His defense team argued that the money was solicited by a rogue aide, Andrew Young, who pocketed most of the proceeds for himself and that the cover-up was intended only to keep the affair a secret from Edwards’ wife Elizabeth and not to further his political career. Elizabeth Edwards was dying of cancer at the time.
The trial was packed with dramatic moments featuring Elizabeth Edwards’ fury over the affair, her dying regrets as she spent her last days without her estranged husband, the sometimes odd behavior of Hunter, and the brazen behavior of Edwards as he clung to his national ambitions while scandal wrecked his family.
Jurors told Judge Catherine Eagles they were unable to reach a verdict. After being sent back to try to reach a unanimous verdict, the jury announced they were hopelessly deadlocked.
Jurors interviewed after the trial said the majority believed Edwards was innocent of the charges.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
David Chalian, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN