John Edwards, unresolved
Former North Carolina senator
John Edwards was found not guilty of a single charge of breaking campaign finance law
even as a judge declared a mistrial on the other five counts brought against him in connection with payments made to a former mistress during his 2008 run for president. That muddled decision offered neither the exoneration for which he hoped nor the stinging judgment for which his many detractors had pined.
The circumstances surrounding today’s verdict were as strange as the trial itself. After declaring that they had reached a verdict on the six counts, it became clear that the jury had settled on a judgment on only one of the counts. The judge asked that the jury try to find unanimity on the other five counts, which included conspiracy and other charges of campaign finance irregularity. They were unable to do so — and a mistrial was declared.
(That wacky set of events followed the dismissal of an alternate juror who was known as the “Lady in Red”. And, no, we didn’t make that up.)
The lack of clarity in the decision rendered Thursday almost certainly will keep the sordid details of Edwards’ attempts to cover up his extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter in the news for a while longer. The Justice Department will now be tasked with deciding whether to retry the case, which many legal experts cast as dubious on the merits, or to simply walk away from it.
Regardless of what they decide, the damage has been done — and then some — to Edwards. While neither Edwards nor Hunter took the stand in the case, the month-long trial amounted to a painful re-litigation of Edwards’ attempts to cover up his relationship with Hunter and the daughter their tryst produced. As the Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia wrote of the trial: “Edwards was portrayed by
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