The final chapter of John Edwards’ slow, steady downfall begins today as a North Carolina federal court begins jury selection for the former presidential candidate. Edwards, you’ll recall from all the National Enquirer stories that broke the news, is accused of using 2008 campaign funds from contributor and friend Bunny Mellon to help pay off his then-pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as his wife died of cancer.
Edwards’ lawyers have previously said they’ll argue that Edwards would have used Mellon’s money to cover the scandal if even if he weren’t running for president, so the dough was really just a personal loan.
Even if he is found not guilty of the various charges, including conspiracy, misappropriation of campaign funds and issuing false statements, Edwards’ life has been predictably shattered. The Washington Post today reports that the disgraced erstwhile senator has become a social and political pariah, languishing in his massive, 10,000 square foot mansion. The few friends who have visited say Edwards is simply flabbergasted by his very public drumming.
“He knows he made mistakes,” law school pal Glenn Bergenfield told the paper. “But John thinks that the treatment of him is so unflinchingly horrible and that what he did is not so different from what others did — JFK, Clinton, the whole rogues’ gallery. We’ve had this conversation about his situation, and I remember he did compare it to Clinton. He said, ‘I did a horrendous thing, but I don’t know why I’m getting such an unforgiving treatment when you think of what other people have done.’”
While Edwards may be confused by the public trial, most of us realize that there’s a huge difference between cheating on your wife and using campaign funds to hide an affair, which may make it hard for Edwards to face an unbiased jury.