By Allan Lengel
Some federal cases are too complicated for jurors. Some may be borderline illegal. And some may end up being a waste of taxpayer money.
The trial against ex-presidential hopeful John Edwards was probably all of the above. A jury on Thursday acquitted him on one count and deadlocked on five others in a scandal that involved using nearly $1 million – in what should have been declared as campaign funds — to help hide an extra-marital affair during the 2008 campaign.
It had a lot of gossip appeal, which made for good press, but in the end it seemed to lack the appropriate outrage quotient necessary to get all the jurors to jump into the guilty pool.
Who’s the loser.
The list is long.
For one, Edwards paid some serious bucks for a top-flight legal team.
Additionally, his reputation, which was already pretty poor, got tarnished even more. If you had any doubts that he was a sleaze, the trial helped put those to rest.
And he had to bear responsibility watching his family suffer through the trial.
The Justice Department once again looks bad. Granted, federal prosecutors shouldn’t fear losing. They should just worry about standing on solid ground. Some how, this one didn’t ever feel right to me.
The feds should have gone after some hefty civil fines. Edwards has lots of money. He would have gladly paid to make it go away. Maybe the money could have been put to good use.
And then there’s the former U.S. Attorney George Holding, who stuck around in his post to make sure that Edwards was indicted. He’s running for Congress and is expected to win.
But there’s talk of him jumping into the Senate race in North Carolina in 2014. A conviction of Edwards could only have bolstered his political capital. Now, sorry George, no added points for you.
So at this point, the question is: Should the feds go for a retrial?
I say absolutely not. In a case like this, one bite of the apple is enough. It’s not like the Rod Blagojevich case, which was certainly worth going after a second time after Blago was convicted on only 1 of 24 counts. The feds nailed him the second time.
This one is not worth going after again. Was Edwards a sneak? Yes. Is he a sleaze? Yes.
As the Washington Post noted:
“The mixed result in a trial that laid bare Edwards’s sexual indiscretions and serial deceptions came after nine days of jury deliberations.”
There are bigger crimes out there. And he’s paid for his digressions. Let’s move on, and let’s forget we knew a Presidential candidate named John Edwards.
He is not worthy.
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