John Edwards campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007.
Attorneys representing John Edwards ended their case Wednesday without calling several potentially significant witnesses, including the former senator himself. The defense also did not put on the stand Edwards’ ex-mistress Rielle Hunter, his daughter Cate and Andrew Young, a former campaign aide for the two-time Democratic presidential candidate.
Edwards is accused of committing campaign-finance violations during his failed 2008 White House bid. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison. —TEB
The government alleges Edwards “knowingly and willingly” accepted large amounts of money from wealthy campaign donors Fred Baron and Rachel Melon to hide Hunter and her pregnancy in an effort to remain a viable candidate in his 2008 presidential campaign.
CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said the defense team’s failure to call more witnesses did not necessarily signify anything.
“The defense clearly feels that its core argument is already before the jurors — which is that, whatever you think of Edwards as a human being, there is no way that he regarded the payments by Baron and Mellon as campaign contributions,” Toobin said.
Closing arguments are set for Thursday, with the jury deliberations expected to begin Friday.
The government’s case stretched over three weeks and included 21 witnesses, and the defense case wrapped up after just over two days of testimony—causing nearly everyone in the courtroom to leave slack-jawed.
While it is up to the prosecution to prove its case—and there is no burden on the defense whatsoever—it was not the kind of defense anyone expected of a man who had aspired to the highest office in the land.