John Edwards has been officially indicted by a federal grand jury, after a two-year investigation into his allegedly using campaign funds to cover up his extramarital affair with staffer Rielle Hunter during the 2008 presidential campaign, reports the AP.
What a grand jury indictment means is that a jury was impaneled as a sort of “fact-finding mission.” The grand jury heard the evidence and ruled as to whether there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial. Now a new jury will be selected and the trial will move forward, barring any kind of plea agreement on Edwards’ part.
In this case, federal prosecutors have approved criminal charges for Edwards, saying that hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor contributions should have been publicly reported instead of used to keep his mistress a secret.
If Edwards pleads guilty to a felony charge, he will lose his license to practice law. But if he continues through to trial, prosecutors believe he will argue he used the money to keep the affair a secret from his wife Elizabeth Edwards, who was battling with cancer, and not to aid his candidacy, which is what the prosecutors argue he was doing.
The case against Edwards will hinge heavily on the testimony of Andrew Young, a former Edwards staffer. Young is the man who initially claimed to be the father to Rielle and John’s daughter Quinn. He claims to have traveled around the country keeping Rielle and Quinn in seclusion, aided by hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds from two wealthy campaign donors.
Edwards is also currently involved in a civil suit involving an alleged sex tape he and Hunter made together that is in Young’s possession. Hunter is suing Young to reclaim materials she claims are hers, which include the supposed sex tape. Edwards has been deposed in this lawsuit.