John Edwards Was a ‘Bad Husband,’ Not a Criminal, Lawyer Argues
(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — John Edwards was a bad husband who cheated on his wife while she died of cancer, but he never broke the law, his lawyer said in closing arguments Thursday.
The prosecution said Edwards was more than a bad husband. The former presidential candidate was the chief architect of a criminal scheme to illegally use campaign contributions to cover up the love affair.
Edwards, 58, is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy donors Fred Baron and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon to keep secret his affair with mistress Rielle Hunter in order to protect his 2008 presidential ambitions and later his hopes of winning a spot as vice president or attorney general. The jury is being asked to decide whether the money was political donations used to dupe the government or gifts from friends who helped Edwards fool his wife. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison.
John Edwards remained unemotional during closing arguments, much the way he has throughout the trial, keeping his chin pressed against his crossed hands, and only occasionally looking at the jury.
Edwards never took the stand in his own defense. Nor did jurors hear directly from Rielle Hunter.
Edwards’ defense lasted just three days and consisted mostly of a forensic accounting of bank statements and phone records. That testimony contrasted sharply with three weeks of prosecution witness who detailed Edwards’ sordid affair, but never said Edwards had any direct knowledge that he was violating campaign finance laws.
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