Former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John Edwards, center, arrives outside federal court with his daughter Cate, left, in Greensboro, N.C., for his trial on charges of violating federal campaign finance laws, Monday, April 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
The U.S. Department of Justice will not retry former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards over payments his backers made to cover up his extramarital affair during the 2008 White House campaign.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said:
"We knew that this case - like all campaign-finance cases - would be challenging. But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime. Last month, the government put forward its best case against Mr. Edwards, and I am proud of the skilled and professional way in which our prosecutors from the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina conducted this trial. The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment. In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts."
The decision comes after a federal jury acquitted Edwards of one count of corruption May 31 and deadlocked on five other counts in a sensational case that alleged Edwards used nearly $1 million of supporters' money to hide his affair with a campaign videographer. The sex scandal ended the political career of the former North Carolina senator. Edwards was the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in 2004.
Edwards' legal team, led by prominent defense attorney Abbe Lowell, said it was "grateful" the charges have been dismissed.
"While John has repeatedly admitted to his sins, he has also consistently asserted, as we demonstrated at the trial, that he did not violate any campaign law nor even imagined that any campaign laws could apply," his lawyers said in a statement. "We are very glad that, after living under this cloud for over three years, John and his family can have their lives back and enjoy the peace they deserve."
Edwards' adult daughter, Cate, tweeted this afternoon, "Big sigh of relief. Ready to move forward with life."
By Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY