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UPDATE: A federal judge on Friday shot down a motion from John Edwards' legal team asking for the case to be thrown out on.
The Associated Press reports that that judge listened to roughly two-and-a-half hours of arguments from both sides, and then quickly issued his ruling. The Edwards defense will now proceed as planned on Monday.
While motions to dismiss are routine, this one appeared to have at least a slight chance of being granted given what observers say was a relatively weak case presented by the prosecution.
Friday, May 11: Now it is John Edwards' defense team's turn. The first move: Asking the judge to throw out the case on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove that the disgraced politician intentionally violated campaign finance law.
While such motions are routine, the Associated Press suggests this one probably has a better chance than most of actually working. The news wire explains that in order to prove guilt, the prosecution must prove both that Edwards knew about the money used in the cover-up of his affair but also that he knew he was violating the law, something that some legal observers say wasn't clear from the prosecution's case.
"They have established their case enough to get to a jury, but it has holes in it," Kieran Shanahan, a Raleigh defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, told the AP. "He is not charged with being a liar and he is not charged with having a baby out of wedlock. He is charged with breaking campaign finance laws."
Assuming the judge does not grant Friday's motion to dismiss, the Edwards' team will begin its defense on Monday.
Thursday, May 10 at 4 p.m.: The full scope of John Edwards' one-time political ambitions took center stage on Thursday as the prosecution wrapped up its case against the now-disgraced politician.
Leo Hinderly, who served as one of the Democrat's top advisers during his 2008 presidential campaign, detailed how his former boss began aggressively lobbying for a consolation prize in the immediate aftermath of his loss in the Iowa caucuses. According to Hinderly's version of events, Edwards' was willing to trade his endorsement for anything on an evolving wish list of high-profile positions, Politico reports.
After giving up on his White House dreams, Edwards originally set his sights on becoming President Obama's vice president, according to Hinderly. When it became clear that wasn't going to happen, the former senator began dropping his near-term ambitions to focus on becoming Obama's attorney general and, later, to a spot in Hillary Clinton's cabinet, despite originally telling friends that a Clinton presidency would be a "disaster."
But even then, Edwards wasn't exactly settling for good: Hinderly testified that he would talk about a "long-term goal" of becoming a Supreme Court justice.
Edwards attempts to secure a back-room deal with the two candidates he was competing against for the Democratic nomination isn't directly tied to the campaign finance charges against him. However, the prosecution appears to be highlighting Edwards' political ambitions to help paint a picture of a politician with so much to lose that he would have done anything to protect his public image.
Thursday, May 10: As federal prosecutors in the John Edwards trial wrap up their case Thursday, there will be one person noticeably absent from the witness stand: Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ former mistress who had largely been expected to take the stand due to her role in fueling the scandal that derailed the Democrat's political career.
The Charlotte Observer reports that prosecutors told the judge late Wednesday that they don't plan on calling Hunter to the stand on what is expected to be their final day of presenting the case against the former vice presidential nominee.
Politico explains the rationale:
"Other witnesses have described her as flighty, so her testimony could be unpredictable. She fought a bitter court battle against the prosecution's star witness, Andrew Young, over the sex tape he obtained depicting her and Edwards. She still seems to harbor affection for Edwards and is the mother of his youngest child. And, all in all, it seems doubtful that she would be eager to provide testimony that could send Edwards to jail." Read more on the decision, and what it could mean for the outcome here.
Meanwhile, ABC News reports that one of the final witnesses that the prosecution will likely ask to testify is Leo Hindery, a former Edwards adviser. Hindery is expected to testify about Edwards’ political aspirations to join the Obama team even after Hunter gave birth to their child, which would bolster allegations that it was Edwards’ political ambitions that fueled his desire to hide his affair. (A former Edwards’ backer testified earlier this week about warning the Obama camp of similar concerns back in 2008, which you can read up on here.)
Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty on six counts of alleged campaign finance violations. You can read previous Slatest updates on the trial here. Elsewhere in Slate, Richard L. Hasen makes the case that Edwards should not be convicted.