OTR Interviews

Plea Deal Likely for John Edwards in Campaign Violations Case?

'On the Record' breaks down the campaign violation case against the former vice presidential running mate


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 25, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Senator John Edwards in trouble -- big trouble? He may soon be slapped with an indictment unless he agrees to a plea before that. Senator Edwards is accused, not proven, of using campaign cash to cover-up an extramarital affair and a love child. You may remember he confessed to having the affair and child with his former campaign videographer.

How much trouble is the senator in? Joining us are criminal defense attorneys Ted Williams and Bernie Grimm along with former San Francisco Assistant D.A. Jim Hammer. Bernie?

BERNIE GRIMM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You thought things couldn't get worse for a guy who is cheating on his wife while she has breast cancer.

VAN SUSTEREN: Things look better suddenly for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

GRIMM: Yes, he's watching right now clapping. It is a tragedy. Edwards has two young daughters. I think he will wrap it up with a deal. What happened is money gets sent to Edwards, as campaign contributions, funneled through him, allegedly, to this woman he's trying to keep quiet or get out of town. The question is did the money go to him as a contribution? The government's case is sort of weak. They have a 100-year-old witness.

VAN SUSTEREN: That looks bad. The woman that supposedly gave the money is 100.

TED WILLIAMS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You are right. You could easily sell me. The problem is that -- you can easily hustle me. The problem is one of the witnesses is 100-years-old. Can you imagine bringing her in court, supposedly the finance campaign manager now dead. As a result, I don't know if the government has a slam-dunk. The only way they could if they had been able to follow the money trail this guy Andrew Young who is supposed to be the snitch in this case, his credibility is shot. He's been on every television station.


JIM HAMMER, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO ASSISTANT D.A.: Some cases come down on the law and facts and those are boring sometimes. Some come down to jury appeal. I would love to be the prosecutor. Even someone as sharp as Bernie Grimm and have him explain how it is not a crime. That he got the 100-year-old lady, to pay off the woman he was sleeping with while his wife had breast cancer. If there is any way to get him, John Edwards goes down.

VAN SUSTEREN: You still have to meet the elements. However --

HAMMER: They tried to do the right thin at the end of the day.

VAN SUSTEREN: If I was a defense attorney, I wouldn't want one woman on the jury whose husband cheated.

WILLIAMS: When you tell a jury, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my wife was suffering from cancer and I was out having an affair and I have a child with my mistress --

VAN SUSTEREN: And I hustled a 100-year-old woman for money.

GRIMM: Ted and I were talking the before, you asked the panel when they come in, would anybody hold it against my client that he was cheating on his wife while she had cancer?


VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe they hope they can find a jury.

Jim, what kind of plea would you offer him? He can avoid indictment, take some deal if that is offered, assuming that he's guilty and he may not be guilty this may be because everyone hates him so much.

HAMMER: You're right. In terms of how a jury would see it, he's in a tough spot. As a prosecutor I have to be fair. If it is, did I want to be the D.A. who gives John Edwards a sweet deal? Again, this is a 100-year- old woman. I read the book about him. She really admired him, she believed him and he sweet talked her out of these boxes of money. Why do I want to be the prosecutor doing a deal? This is the kind of case I want to prosecute.

WILLIAMS: There's no crime about sweet-talking a 100-year-old woman out of money.

HAMMER: If there's a crime I said.

WILLIAMS: Hold on. She said the money she gave was a gift. If I was a gift and not campaign funds he's going to be all right. If you want to get him for income tax evasion, a plea, wouldn't you agree?

GRIMM: Yes. The problem was the checks from grandma or great grandma came in boxes of chocolates. I don't know why they are buried there.

WILLIAMS: Are you going to put a 100-year-old woman on the stand to testify against John Edwards?

HAMMER: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: If I were a prosecutor?

WILLIAMS: Have you no shame?

VAN SUSTEREN: If I'm representing John Edwards and I hear during the opening statement, and this is collateral is she is 100. Why didn't he go to his rich lawyer friends? She is wealthy. But he's got a lot of rich lawyer friends. Why didn't get to you, Ted?

WILLIAMS: I'm with the IRS and I don't trust you, Greta.

GRIMM: It would be easier to cross-examine Ted than it would to cross-examine a 100-year-old woman. There's more to dig in.


VAN SUSTEREN: Let me restate it again. He hasn't been indicted of anything. Maybe he committed no crimes. It is such a sordid story it is hard to feel sorry for him. Anyway, thank you all.