Edwards case to go forward

John Edwards comments following federal judge's decision not to dismiss charges against him .
October 27, 2011 10:21:04 AM PDT
A North Carolina federal judge has denied five motions filed by lawyers for John Edwards seeking the dismissal of the criminal case against the former presidential candidate.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles said the motions are being denied without prejudice, meaning Edwards' lawyers can use them at a later date.

"[The judge] has serious and substantial questions about the things we raised in our motions for which she will have to consider when we get to trial. That's both gratifying and the very point of making the motions we made," Edwards' attorney Abbe Lowell told reporters.

Also speaking to reporters after the ruling, Edwards told reporters "I will finally get my day in court."

"The people get to hear my side of this and what actually happened. And what I know with complete and complete and absolute certainty is I didn't violate campaign laws and I never for a second believed I was violating campaign laws," he said.

Edwards is accused of using about $1 million in undisclosed payments from campaign donors to cover up an affair during his 2008 White House bid. He has pleaded not guilty.

The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, eventually fathering a child. Prosecutors contend that Edwards used money from donors far in excess of legal campaign limits to keep the dalliance under wraps.

Much of the undisclosed money was funneled to Andrew Young, a close aide to Edwards who left the campaign and falsely claimed paternity of the senator's illegitimate child. Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later travelled with her as tabloid reporters sought to expose the candidate's extramarital affair.

Edwards' lawyers argued in the motions filed last month that the judge should throw out the case, alleging the case was sought by a partisan Republican prosecutor bent on taking down a big-name Democrat.

Prosecutors filed a stack of motions ridiculing the defense arguments as baseless and ignorant of the law.

During a hearing Wednesday, the defense said the indictment was "bare," and failed to define what type of election law crime was committed.

His attorneys said the money was a gift unrelated to campaign expenditures. They pointed out that legally, donors can help pay for a candidate's personal expenses unrelated to campaign. They also said money from donors never went directly to Edwards - it was handled through third parties.

However, the prosecution countered that if it was third party expenditure, Supreme Court rulings state that intent behind donations must be "unambiguously clear."

"Edwards isn't insulated from allegations because he didn't get his hands dirty - because they went to a third party," U.S. District Attorney David Harbach said.

They emphasized that campaign contribution limit per individual is $2,300 and that Edwards personally solicited the money.

A trial is scheduled to begin in January.

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