After deliberating for a week and a half, a North Carolina jury acquitted John Edwards on one count and deadlocked on five more.
“While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins,” Edwards said on the courthouse steps.
He also said he had hope for his future.
“I don’t think God’s through with me. I really believe he thinks there’s still some good things I can do.”
I've kind of, sort of, paid attention to this case, but not close attention. After all, it is a pretty sordid story about a couple of people — Elizabeth and John Edwards — for whom I still feel considerable affection. As a result, when this verdict was being reported today, I learned a couple of new things about what I will now call the John Edwards witchhunt.
1. No one has ever been prosecuted for what the prosecution alleged John Edwards did. And most likely, no one else ever will be.
2. The US Attorney who initiated the Edwards witchhunt is a Republican who is now running for Congress — with his eye on even higher office — and the Edwards indictment is “the centerpiece of his political campaign.”
George Holding, the North Carolina prosecutor who initiated the investigation of Edwards and pressed for his indictment, is a staunch Republican who remained in office during the Obama Administration thanks — oh-so-ironically — to the backlash against the politicization of federal prosecutors by the Bush Administration. Holding spoke openly about seeking partisan political office while still serving as a U.S. Attorney, stepped down to run for Congress just after indicting Edwards, and has used the indictment as a centerpiece of his political campaign, while repeatedly criticizing the president who permitted him to holdover as U.S. Attorney for North Carolina's Eastern District. In pre-trial motions, the defense has alleged not just that Holding had political ambitions but that he harbored outright bias against Edwards as well.
Given all this political baggage, and the fact that the prosecution lost, and lost big, on their first try, it's no wonder the legal eagles are predicting prosecutors will have no stomach for another try at convicting Edwards. Heck, George Holding already got what he wanted out of this, and so did Edwards' political rivals.
Stuff like this is why so many people are cynical about what we call justice in this country. It isn't healthy.