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Former Edwards Aide Speaks Out

Former Edwards Aide Speaks Out Gerry Broome/ AP Photo

As prosecution says Edwards chose "to break the law."

Following the opening statements of John Edwards’s trial, in which the prosecution said Edwards "made a choice to break the law," a former aide of the two-time Democratic presidential candidate delivered crucial testimony that prosecutors hope will work in their favor. Andrew Young, who falsely claimed paternity of Edwards’s child with his mistress during his 2007 presidential campaign, spoke for nearly two hours on Monday about the cover-up. Edwards is accused of spending nearly a million dollars of federal-campaign money to hide the pregnancy. Edwards, 58, has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts, with his lawyers insisting that the bribe money came from friends, not his campaign.

Read it at Associated Press

Strategy

John Edwards’s Newsweek Defense

A 2007 Newsweek cover featuring the former presidential candidate could prove key in helping Edwards’s team discredit the government’s star witness. Diane Dimond reports.

Andrew Young is considered to be the government’s key witness in the felony campaign-financing case against former presidential candidate John Edwards. In fact, Young’s anticipated testimony—along with voice-mail messages and handwritten notes from Edwards that he saved—are considered so important to the case that the former top campaign staffer is expected to be the prosecution’s lead-off witness when the trial gets underway this week.  

Meantime, the defense is ready to pick the guy apart—and hopefully plant in the jury’s mind enough seeds of doubt about Young’s version of events surrounding Edwards’s spectacular fall from political grace, so that his effectiveness as a government witness evaporates. And how, exactly, does lead defense attorney Abbe Lowell plan to do that?

Newsweek & The Daily Beast has learned that part of Lowell’s strategy involves casting doubt on Young’s characterization of why he decided to publicly claim paternity of the love child Edwards had with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter. Young has claimed that he made the decision after seeing Edwards on a December 2007 cover of Newsweek and realizing the North Carolina senator had a good shot at becoming president.

In connection with an effort to compel testimony from Newsweek regarding the magazine’s December 2007 production schedule, one of Lowell’s colleagues—perhaps inadvertently—gave a rare pretrial glimpse inside the defense team’s strategy. According to one of the emails sent to an officer of Newsweek by an attorney in Lowell’s office at the law firm of Chadbourne & Parke in Washington, D.C.:

“The information regarding Newsweek’s publication schedule is extremely important to Mr. Edwards’ defense.  Specifically, Andrew Young, the government’s main witness against Mr. Edwards, has stated that he was inspired to assume public paternity of Mr. Edwards’ child Quinn on December 14, 2007 and that the inspiration for doing so came when he saw Newsweek’s December 24 edition entitled “The Sleeper” sitting on the seat of his car. … Young has stated that the magazine’s coverage of Mr. Edwards convinced him of Edwards’ viability as a candidate and motivated him to agree to assume paternity of the child.  As you can imagine, the government views this testimony as being central to its case.”

Diane Dimond on day one at John Edwards’s trial.

Edwards Back in Court

Johnny Takes the Stand

As the trial of the former presidential candidate gets underway in North Carolina, the verdict may hinge on which admitted liar the jury believes. Diane Dimond reports.

Johnny Reid Edwards has fallen faster, further, and more completely than any other national politician on the modern American stage. The son of a North Carolina mill worker who rose to become a United States senator and a two-time Democratic presidential candidate—in 2004 and 2008—Edwards ultimately destroyed his own career by repeatedly lying about his personal life and asking others to lie for him.

Now, federal prosecutors allege it was more than just the lies told about a mistress and a love child, but Edwards’s expenditure of nearly a million dollars of federal campaign money to cover up the embarrassing situation that resulted in him crossing the line from simple cad to criminal. 

Edward’s camp does not deny spending the money but insists it was not from federal campaign coffers.

The 58-year-old Edwards is facing six felony counts in the action entitled The United States vs. Johnny Reid Edwards, which is set to go before a jury next week in Greensboro, N.C. (opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, but may slip if jury selection isn’t completed). The charges against Edwards include conspiracy, making false statements, and four charges that he accepted illegal campaign contributions from two wealthy donors who had already given his campaign the maximum allowed. If convicted, Edwards could face a 30-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $1.5 million. Edwards has steadfastly maintained he is innocent of the charges.

But the public record proves Edwards is not so innocent of misleading the more than 100,000 supporters of his last presidential race who, collectively, helped him raise more than $23 million in campaign money. In multiple statements and media interviews, Edwards not only lied about an extramarital affair with his campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter (at first he calling it just a “tabloid trash story”), he repeatedly lied about being the father of their child. Ultimately, Edwards was forced to admit paternity and he publically apologized to his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Quinn, just days before a sizzling tell-all book was released, written by former top campaign staffer Andrew Young. 

john-edwards-scandals-teaser

Aftermath

John Edwards Pays Back the FEC

Just before the deadline.

John Edwards is finally paying back his debt to society—starting with the $2.1 million in public funds he owed the Federal Election Commission after his personal scandal forced him to drop out of the 2008 presidential primary. Up next is Edwards’s criminal trial over whether he used almost $1 million of donor money to pay off his pregnant mistress to keep a low profile during his presidential campaign. He faces up to 30 years in jail and a payment of $1.5 million if found guilty.

Read it at Associated Press

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The Madam and the Money Man

Accused money launderer in the soccer-mom madam case has a colorful past. Michael Daly reports.

Long before he was implicated in the $10 million soccer-mom madam case, accused money launderer Jonas Gayer was implicated in a $10 million case involving an old-school Jewish gangster who rode resplendent through sketchiest Brooklyn in a gold Rolls-Royce, always dressed sharper than sharp and kept astonishing sums of cash within reach. For a time he owned the fabled El Morocco nightclub.

Manhattan Madam Case

Anna Gristina, accused of running a brothel out of a Manhattan apartment, appeared in State Supreme Court last Monday in New York (Louis Lanzano / AP Photo)

The tough guy was Albert “Albie” Goldstein, and each weekday Red, his driver, would chauffeur him from his residence in the prestigious Sovereign in Manhattan to R-Jo Trucking at the Brooklyn Terminal Market in scruffy Canarsie. The Rolls would stop at one of the loading bays and Goldstein would step out, no more than five-foot-four, but bigger than workaday life in a custom-tailored suit and a tie that seemed a nonverbal expression of his mantra.

“Not bad for an ex-truck driver!” he often said.

R-Jo was the sole distributor for the Key Food Cooperative Supermarket chain at the time. Key Food’s board of directors iincluded Pasquale Conte, who also served as a capo in the Gambino crime family. The dealings between Goldstein and Conte no doubt presented a professional challenge to Gayer, who had worked with the IRS for 10 years before signing on as R-Jo’s controller.

In 1989 the federal government expressed its view of the firm’s finances when it charged Goldstein, Gayer, and three other individuals with 58 counts of tax fraud and money laundering involving $10 million undeclared earnings.

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Again? Edwards Denies Bombshell

At the least, the report comes at an awkward time for a guy awaiting trial on federal charges that he used campaign cash to keep his mistress and love child under wraps.

Right about now, John Edwards must be wishing he had never set foot in New York.

The big city clearly has a bad effect on this son of a mill worker. And we’re not talking get-barred-from-Le-Baron-for-sassing-the-doorman bad. No, this is more of a couldn’t-keep-his-knickers-on-back-when-he-was-a-married-presidential-wannabe bad.

Edwards, you may recall, made the acquaintance of Rielle Hunter—arguably among the most disastrous hotel-bar hook-ups of modern times—while staying at a New York hotel in the course of a 2006 cross-country speaking tour.

Now come a report from veteran New York reporter Murray Weiss alleging more frisky hotel business. As part of its multiyear probe of Anna Gristina, the tabloid-dubbed “Soccer Mom Madam” arrested last month for allegedly running a $15 million high-end call-girl ring on the Upper East Side, Weiss reports that the Manhattan DA’s office interviewed a prostitute in 2008 who claimed to have conducted a bit of business with Edwards at a posh Upper East Side hotel the previous year. Investigators found the woman’s detailed description of the encounter credible enough to warrant follow-up digging—in the course of which they determined that Edwards had been fundraising in the city on the night in question.

Just hours after the story of Edwards’s alleged call-girl connection hit the Web, his attorneys went ballistic: denying the woman’s story, demanding a retraction, and making not-so-subtle threats against all those who dare repeat the charges. Intimidating stuff.

SCANDAL

Edwards Denies Call-Girl Claim

Edwards Denies Call-Girl Claim Chuck Burton / AP Photo

Name is uncovered in ‘Millionaire Madam’ investigation.

John Edwards on Thursday denied a report that he had used New York's so-called "Millionaire Madam." Edwards's lawyer issued a strongly worded statement denying the allegation, and demanded a "complete retraction" from New York's local news blog DNA Info, which broke the story. DNA Info reported Thursday that a call girl working for Anna Gristina told investigators that she was paid to have sex with Edwards while he was in New York in 2007, raising money for his failed presidential bid. Records show he stayed at the Loews Regency Hotel—which is also where he allegedly met Rielle Hunter.

Read it at New York Daily News

PAY THE PIPER

FEC: Edwards Owes $2.1M

FEC: Edwards Owes $2.1M Steve Exum / Getty Images (FILE)

In separate case from his pending criminal trial.

The Federal Election Commission said on Friday that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards owes the U.S. Treasury $2.1 million—and the defunct campaign must repay it within 30 days. The FEC report says Edwards received $12.9 million from the U.S. Treasury during the 2008 campaign--$2.1 million more than his entitlement. The FEC rejected arguments by Edwards’s lawyers that the commission’s problems led to an incorrect finding on the entitlement, and Edwards’s lawyers said they won’t be pursuing the matter further. This case is separate from Edwards’s pending criminal trial, which is set to start jury selection this month.

Read it at MSNBC

SAFE

Rielle Hunter Gets Immunity

Rielle Hunter Gets Immunity Jim R. Bounds / AP Photo

In John Edwards’s trial.

John Edwards’s former mistress, Rielle Hunter, has been granted immunity in his trial, according to North Carolina TV station WRAL on Thursday. The former presidential candidate has been accused of conspiring to violate campaign-finance laws by using $1 million from campaign donors to cover up his affair—and child—with Hunter. Jury selection in Edwards trial is expected to begin on April 12, and the opening arguments will kick off on April 23. The trial had already been postponed due to Edwards’s life-threatening heart condition.

Read it at WRAL

John Edwards Heads to Court

The trial of John Edwards begins today and you may be surprised who's coming to his defense. John Avlon reports in today's Campaign Chronicles.

  1. Should We Feel Pity For John Edwards? Play

    Should We Feel Pity For John Edwards?

  2. John Edwards: High-End Hooker Hook Up? Play

    John Edwards: High-End Hooker Hook Up?

Report from North Carolina

A Former Aide Testifies

Edwards Staffer’s Shocking Testimony

Edwards Staffer’s Shocking Testimony

From secret cellphone conversations to spiriting his mistress away on a jet, the allegations against John Edwards on Tuesday were relentless.

Edwards Trial

It’s Not John’s Fault!

Strategy

John Edwards’s Newsweek Defense

In Newsweek

Bunny Mellon Speaks

The Brilliance of Billy Crystal

The Brilliance of Billy Crystal

In his one-man show, ‘700 Sundays’, Crystal interweaves the bitter and sweet—growing up Jewish in Long Beach, being the token Munchkin on the school basketball team—and reminds us what great comedy is.

Changing Times

Senior Dem's Tough Re-Election

If You Dare

For Sale: The Scariest Island Ever

Legal Authority

Go It Alone, Obama, for Democracy

Fashion Cheat Sheet

The Duchess's DVF Dress Sells Out

Prelude to the Trial

Edwards’s Life in Exile

Edwards’s Life in Exile

In his hometown, residents see the ex-senator and former favorite son as disgraced and dishonored.

Sex Tape Deprivation Syndrome

Is Edwards Really Sick?