John Edwards defense team set to make its case
GREENSBORO, North Carolina (CNN) — The defense for John Edwards is scheduled to start Monday morning in the former presidential candidate’s corruption trial.
Edwards, who faces six felony charges, is accused of conspiracy, making false statements and violating campaign contribution laws. He has pleaded not guilty.
His defense team has not yet said who it might call to testify, though Edwards is not expected to take the stand.
Court is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Last week, the federal judge presiding over the trial turned down a motion to dismiss the charges.
Prosecutors wrapped their case on Thursday, detailing hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses used by Edwards’ former mistress, whose concealment during his failed presidential run remains at the heart of the scandal.
The expenses ranged from luxury hotels to private jets to high-priced rental homes largely paid for, prosecutors say, by Fred Baron, a now-deceased Texas lawyer who was Edwards’ finance chairman.
Prosecutors say Edwards broke federal law by accepting more than $200,000 from Baron and about $725,000 from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon.
They did not call to the stand Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ former mistress and the mother of his youngest child.
The final piece of evidence the prosecution showed was a 2008 ABC interview with Edwards in which the North Carolina Democrat denied having fathered the child.
He later admitted to the affair with Hunter, after his presidential ambitions foundered. In 2010, he said he was the father of her daughter.
Meanwhile, the defense has argued the money he received from Mellon and Baron was for personal reasons — to protect Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer, and his family from public humiliation. Edwards has said his actions were wrong but insisted they were not illegal.
His lawyers have said that Andrew Young, a political aide, largely used the money for his own personal gain, also paying for Hunter’s medical expenses during her pregnancy to hide the affair from Edwards’ wife.
Young admitted during questioning that he used some donations for his own personal benefit — particularly to fund construction of a home that included a pool and a theater.
“This was a fall from grace,” defense attorney Allison Van Laningham has told jurors. “It was that humiliation he (Edwards) was trying to avoid all along.”
If convicted on all counts, Edwards could face up to 30 years behind bars.
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