While the government presented a convincing case for Edwards’ general turpitude, what it failed to do was show that he had committed a crime. This prosecution was a stretch from the beginning. Edwards was accused of violating campaign finance laws, but those laws are notoriously arcane. None directly addresses a candidate or his staff soliciting contributions to cover up a candidate’s affair. It was not surprising that, navigating this murky legal landscape, at least some jurors would accept the defense’s contention that the funds were gifts rather than campaign contributions – and that the campaign finance laws therefore did not apply.
Cohen’s argument? The defense pulled off a savvy move by never playing Edwards as the innocent, arguing that while while he certainly was guilty of personal failings, they did not equate to the campaign finance crimes he was accused of. Edwards essentially said this at his press conference yesterday: “While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought that what I was doing illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong.” Agree? (EDIT: minor correction)