What the hell is going on here? Media report that even John Edwards own defense attorney has brandished him a liar. That's like being a little bit pregnant. The former senator is the best evidence when it comes to what he didn't know or intend, and the rug has been yanked from under his credibility? Let's take a step back and deduce, as best we can, the facts thus far established by the prosecution, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to it.
The Edwards marriage had been void of romance for years prior to his meeting Rielle Hunter. Some men can adjust to this and accept life accordingly, while others can't. John Edwards fit the latter category. His wife was aware of his dalliances with others, but chose to look the other way. After all, what's temporary doesn't last. Then, Edwards met Ms. Hunter and flipped, head over heels. This relationship did not smack of fleeting. He fathered a child and, realizing that things could no longer be kept under control, panicked at the thought of exposure. He, or someone on his behalf, solicited funds from two wealthy friends for the purpose of making his mistress, and their child, as materially comfortable as possible, so as to keep the lid on things. Public knowledge would ruin him, his marriage and his political ambitions. He entrusted an aide to be the point man, but greed took over, as the aide funneled over a million dollars for his and his wife's benefit. It has not been established, with certainty, whether Edwards knew of this skulduggery. Ultimately, the mess blew up, with severe collateral damage. Mr. and Mrs. Aide turned squealers to save their own butts, wrote and published a rat's book to make more money and wrangled immunity from an over-zealous U.S. Attorney. Edwards wife, battling cancer during the Hunter affair, formally separated from him and subsequently succumbed to the disease. Her mental torment has been described to the jury in devastating detail. Edwards is charged with violating the campaign contribution statute, with the government alleging that the funds in question were hidden and/or falsely treated as gifts. The prosecution shall shortly rest its case-in-chief.
John Edwards is not the first man to commit adultery and to spawn an out-of-wedlock child. But his misconduct has been presented in excruciating detail before a world wide audience. What will his defense be? It's not safe to rely solely on the technical argument that the monies were donated and received as "gifts" because the jury, at this juncture, doesn't like him and, therefore, won't believe him. The situation calls for, as all criminal trials do, something dramatic, which will emotionally supersede the evidentiary damage already inflicted.
If I were Edwards' attorney (be still my heart), this would be my scenario: Stay with me, now.
There is something wrong with the picture thus far painted by the U.S. Attorney. There's a piece missing from the puzzle. A vital and central figure in this morality tale has not been called as a witness: Rielle Hunter, the woman in black.
Both sides have listed her as a potential witness. This automatically keeps her out of the courtroom by virtue of the sequestration rule. She presents herself as a supremely confident woman for whom Edwards would not have fallen, had his marriage been romantically stable. Were the prosecutor to call her, he would be limited by the restraining niceties of direct examination. A crucial factor is that she has been granted immunity by the government. She's feisty and, shall we say, not shy. She would be dynamite on the stand. Defense counsel should call her as a witness. She should be properly prepped for a detailed direct and a withering cross examination. The truth, coming from her, would simultaneously accomplish two things. "Jury Fury" would be redirected towards her and she would penultimately set the stage for the most bombastically climactic conclusion to this trial. John Edwards taking the stand on his behalf. Picture the drama.
In prior posts on this case, I have enunciated my thoughts on why this could be the beginning of John Edwards' salvation and redemption. He would take his punishment in public and to the extreme, nourishing the seeds of forgiveness.
Recall movie scenes of a public hanging. The onlookers have their fists upraised and are screaming for blood. But, once the lever is pulled, and the body is jerkily swaying in the wind, a hush envelopes the crowd, signifying a complete reversal of attitude.
Call it regret or sympathy or pity or whatever.
It's what John Edwards needs.