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Rachel Maddow did an interesting piece Friday night that said something that needs to be said, over and over: John Edwards is being singled out for special treatment in his indictment. And unfortunately, people who might otherwise support him in fighting it have decided for their own reasons that he deserves to be punished because he cheated on his dying wife.
That's just plain crazy. And it's no basis for a criminal prosecution, as Maddow pointed out.
Nor is our personal affection for Elizabeth Edwards a good enough reason to look the other way while he's railroaded through a criminal trial that was brought by a politically ambitious Republican prosecutor:
MADDOW: The reason the reason I'm making a federal case about this is because a federal case has been made about this - specifically, about the money part.
During the campaign with the National Enquirer reporting he had an affair. the mistress was a politically inconvenient thing for this presidential campaign. Two of his very wealthy supporters spent $900,000 trying to hide the woman with whom John Edwards had the affair. [...]
They paid for her medical care while pregnant. According to the government, that $900,000 spent on his mistress, that was a campaign contribution. It was meant to protect his public image. [...] $900,000 being spent on that is way over the limit for how much you can legally donate to a campaign. Remember when we used to think there was [a limit on] how much money you could give to a campaign.
The John Edwards trial is unprecedented. Nobody has been indicted on charges like this before, let alone in the wild, wild world campaign of no rules with the Citizens United and the finance laws they have killed in the last few years. Sheldon Adelson has spent more than 16 times more that the money implicated in the John Edwards scandal on Newt Gingrich in the 2012 primary. At least, this case is not about whether or not John Edwards is a bad guy. Ultimately, this sex scandal boils down to whether he took campaign donations that were too big. Joining us now is Hampton Dellinger. He's been covering by blog. Thanks for your time. it's nice to have you here.
DELLINGER: You're welcome. Great to be with you.
MADDOW: I know you've been covering this closely. Did I get the basics about the scandal and the case? I wouldn't be surprised if I messed something up.
DELLINGER: I'm surprised you didn't. You got it spot on. This is a one of a kind. It will likely be the only case of its kind. We have corporations and individuals giving tens of millions of dollars in direct aid of candidates and their campaign. $900,000 in indirect aid doesn't feel good, doesn't smell right. Clearly, his activity as a husband was heinous, but it's never been considered felonious until now.
MADDOW: The decision to bring a prosecution here, you think it's no foregone clonclusion this is a criminal matter. They are making an issue of what might have motivated prosecutors in bringing this case. What can you tell us about the prosecutor in this case?
DELLINGER: There's no question that it's an inconvenient fact for the government. There's never been a case like this before. This is not Blagojevich selling a senate seat. This was not an ambassadorship for sale. A lot of folks have wondered what could have motivated this type of prosecution. It is a fact that the U.S. attorney, a staunch Republican who is able to stay in office, thanks to the Republican U.S. attorney scandal stayed in office during the first two years of the Obama administration. That U.S. attorney indicted John Edwards and stepped down and started running as a Republican for congress. He and Edwards crossed paths in the years past. I think there's a discomfort with a novel prosecution and the pivotal role played by someone who decided to play the candidate. He may be the next U.S. senator from North Carolina.
MADDOW: Has he made an issue of the fact that he brought their prosecution against John Edwards in trying to build his political career? Has he been campaigning on it?
DELLINGER: It's exhibit A.
MADDOW: Oh. In terms of the merits of case, when you look at the defense team that John Edwards put together, that's a fascinating part of this. He's is trial lawyer, yet he's had to build a legal team. Do you think he's done a good job of building a defense team?
DELLINGER: He's built a team and torn them apart, going through them like Elizabeth Taylor through husbands. It's been troubling to see how many fine attorneys have been part of his defense team and then left. The outcome, we can't know. We do know this is a jury that's going to be working class. I was in court the other day when the pool came in. You saw more baseball caps than neckties and t-shirts than button downs. It's the type of jury that john edward appealed to as a candidate, that he talked about in his "Two Americas" speech. it's the kind of jury that he thinks he's got a chance with, but boy, is he taking a risk.
MADDOW: Hampton Dellinger. thanks for following this so closely. I appreciate it.
DELLINGER: You're welcome.
Watch the tape, the available transcript was really garbled in parts.