When the U.S. government finally announced their criminal charges against John Edwards on June 3, there was no greater vindication for this hard-charging supermarket tabloid than the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s decision to officially include our exclusive reporting in their history-making 19-page “INDICTMENT” document outlining the case (#1:11-cr-00161-UA) of “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JOHNNY REID EDWARDS.”

There, on Page 9, Section 25, in the document filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, N.C., and signed by U.S. Gov’t officials headed by United States Attorney George E.B. Holding and Dept. of Justice Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith, it is officially noted: “On or about October 10, 2007, a nationally circulated periodical published an article reporting that EDWARDS was allegedly involved in an extramarital affair. Shortly thereafter, in response to inquiries from the media, EDWARDS falsely denied having an affair with Person B,” meaning Edwards’ mistress and mother of his love child Rielle Hunter.

The document goes on to detail the massive cover-up engineered by Edwards and how he broke the law in a scandal, which, I am proud to say, was single-handedly broken by The National Enquirer!

As the government has reminded the world in their official Indictment, it was beginning in 2007 that a series of exclusive Enquirer stories blew the lid off Edwards’ affair with blond divorcee Rielle and the birth of their love child, daughter Frances. Rielle was on Edwards’ campaign payroll at the time.

More than two months after our first story exposing Edwards’ affair with Rielle in Oct. 2007, based on the stellar reporting by hard-charging Los Angeles-based ENQUIRER reporter Rick Egusquiza, we were able to first reveal that Rielle was pregnant with his child in our issue dated Dec. 31, 2007. Our reporting triggered a media frenzy, and Edwards repeatedly denied our stories.

Edwards repeatedly lied to the public, calling our reports about him “tabloid trash,” “ridiculous,” “made up” and “completely untrue.”

Never pick a fight with people who like to fight, as the smart saying goes! While the mainsteam media -- papers like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times (which in fact even barred their bloggers from mentioning the Enquirer’s name in the same sentence as Edwards’) -- shunned our reporting, we carried on with our shoe-leather reporting, finding additional sources, working hard to substantiate the story we knew was true that no one would carry except those in the blogosphere.

It wasn’t “checkbook journalism” as the Pulitzer Committee would like to believe – but old-fashioned, Woodward and Bernstein-style reporting that allowed us to catch our man!

Crack ENQUIRER reporters Alan Butterfield and Alexander Hitchen – in the middle of the night -- caught Edwards visiting Rielle and Frances at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles on July 21, 2008. We were finally able to begin to force Edwards to come clean about the lies he had told the public, his campaign staff and his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth.

While Edwards admitted shortly thereafter to having an affair with Rielle on ABC’s “Nightline,” it wasn’t until January 2010 that he finally admitted paternity of his child, then nearly two years old.

We can remind the public that our reporting wasn’t just about catching him cheating -- way back in August 2008, we first raised the issue of “hush money” being paid to Rielle and Andrew Young, a married Edwards’ aide who helped cover up the affair by claiming he was involved with Rielle and had fathered her child.

And in our April 13, 2009 issue, we were the first to disclose that Edwards was the subject of a federal investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service -- and that a grand jury had been seated in Raleigh, N.C. to begin the Government’s probe, which we said could end in him going to jail if he was indicted and convicted.

A month later, Edwards confirmed that he was the subject of the federal grand jury probe. After Young refused to lie to the grand jury, and decided to come clean in a tell-all book about his role in the cover up, Edwards FINALLY admitted paternity.

While our reporting on what may end up being the greatest political scandal of all time earned The Enquirer a prestigious Pulitzer Prize nomination last year for American journalism’s highest honor, there’s been no greater vindication than to hear the words directly from our nation’s leaders that The Enquirer's dogged pursuit of exposing wrong-doing in the case of Edwards was completely justified.

In announcing the criminal charges against Edwards, U.S. Attorney Holding said in a statement: “Democracy demands that our election system be protected, and without vigorously enforced campaign finance laws, the people of this country lose their voice.”

We can now thank the United States government for finishing the job that The Enquirer first started!

Barry Levine is Executive Editor/Director of News for The National Enquirer.