John Edwards Trial Unlikely: Expect a Plea

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 03, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Is John Edwards' trial really going to happen? If so, what will John Edwards' defense be concerning the alleged misuse of campaign funds to cover up his affair and pregnancy with Rielle Hunter?

Edwards was indicted Friday on felony charges for soliciting and using up to $925,000 to hide Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy during his 2008 presidential nomination campaign.

The indictment came down after negotiations between Edwards' attorneys and prosecutors failed. They had been trying to agree on a charge that Edwards could plead guilty to. Prosecutors wanted Edwards to plead guilty on a felony charge, which would have put his legal license at jeopardy, reports the AP.

The indictment contains six counts - a count of conspiracy, four counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions, and a count of making false statements, according to the AP.

If the case does go to trial, John Edwards' defense team may have their work cut out for them. It's likely that they will argue the funds solicited by Edwards from donors like Rachel "Bunny" Mellon were not campaign contributions. Prosecutors assert that the money should have been properly documented as campaign donations, and should not have been used by Edwards for personal expenses like covering up the Rielle Hunter affair.

One potentially damaging piece of evidence is a letter from Mellon, where she wrote to Andrew Young, Edward's ex-personal aide, that all bills that were "necessary and important" for Edwards' campaign should be forwarded to her, reports MSNBC.

But, will John Edwards' trial be a reality? It seems unlikely. Some commentators believe that the Justice Department is overreaching on the charges they have brought against Edwards. And, Edwards, who has young children, has all the incentive in the world to settle and plea out of the trial, to avoid potentially damaging negative publicity and the pain of a public trial on his family.

John Edwards' defense team includes Gregory Craig, who said that his client would be pleading "not guilty," reports The Washington Post. Though, if John Edwards' trial does somehow begin, escaping a plea settlement - the affair with Rielle Hunter will once again be casting shadows over the one-time political powerhouse's family and image.

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