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John Edwards Trial begins Today
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Opening statements are scheduled to begin today in the trial of John Edwards, which is being held in Greensboro, North Carolina. The trial will determine whether or not the former candidate for the presidency violated the country’s federal campaign finance laws. Edwards pled not guilty to six criminal charges that are related to $1 million in secret payments made by two wealthy supporters for his campaign. The majority of that money was used to hide the pregnant mistress of Edwards in the midst of his campaign for the White House in 2008.

It is expected that prosecutors will argue that Edwards led a conspiracy to hide his affair from his wife and the public. The defense lawyers for Edwards claim that the payments came from friends with the sole purpose of hiding the affair from his wife. The woman’s name is Rielle Hunter. Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer in December of 2010. The judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles, said that the proceedings should last around six weeks. Eagles was appointed to her position in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

  
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The most important aspect of the trial will involve determining whether or not Edwards knew about the payments made on his behalf by the late Fred Baron, a lawyer from Texas, and Rachel Mellon, an heiress and socialite. Both people had already given Edwards $2,300, which is the maximum individual contribution to a campaign permitted by the federal law. Edwards claims he did not know about the money even though it paid for luxury hotels, private jets and the medical care for his mistress. Prosecutors said that they will try to prove that Edwards went looking for the money and then used it to hide the affair in order to continue his campaign for the presidency.

The lawyer representing Edwards is Abbe Lowell, who said that even if Edwards knew about the money, his actions do not add up to a crime, according to federal law. Lowell also argues that the money was never touched by Edwards and that it was not deposited into an account used for campaign funds. The majority of the money in question was sent to Andrew Young, an ex-campaign aide for Edwards. The two were once so close that Young even claimed paternity of Hunter’s child. Hunter lived with Young and his wife close to Chapel Hill and even went on a trip across the country with her while trying to avoid tabloids asking about the affair.

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