Edwards Case Hinges on Lone Word: 'The'

Defense: prosecution's argument could allow abortions on campaign's dime
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2012 12:26 PM CDT
Edwards Case Hinges on Lone Word: 'The'
Cate Edwards walks with her father John Edwards into the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., as the defense continues in John Edwards' campaign corruption trial Monday, May 14, 2012.   (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Bill Clinton wondered about the meaning of "is" when talking to the grand jury vis-a-vis Monica Lewinsky in 1998; now John Edwards' defense team is building its case around the word "the," reports ABC News. The statute at the heart of the case refers to campaign cash designated "for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office." In this case, the word "the" suggests that the money was spent in order to influence the election, say Edwards' lawyers, who argue that Edwards' main intention in hiding Rielle Hunter was to keep knowledge of her existence from his wife.

Prosecutors, however, say that "the purpose" should be read as "a purpose." Politico shares this from the lead prosecutor: "Because people rarely act with a single purpose in mind, it is not necessary that you find that a gift, purchase, or payment was made solely for the purpose of influencing a federal election ... influencing any election for federal office" need only be one of the purposes. The defense counters that that line of thinking could be used to justify using campaign funds to pay for far more scurrilous things. "Under the government's logic, if spending money to conceal an affair is campaign related because it is spent for 'the purpose of influencing an election,'" then a candidate's campaign cash could "pay, for example, for his mistress to have an abortion to conceal the affair." (More John Edwards stories.)

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