All-Star Panel: Debate over Edwards corruption verdict

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 31, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong. And there is no one else responsible for my sins. None of the people who came to court and testified are responsible. Nobody working for the government is responsible. I am responsible. And if I want to find the person who should be held accountable for my sins, honestly, I don't have to go any further than the mirror.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Former Democratic presidential candidate, former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards on a day when the judge in Greensboro, North Carolina, declared a mistrial. The jury took nine days to come up with some decision. It found Edwards not guilty on one count of accepting illegal donations, campaign donations, and didn't come to a decision on five other counts. The judge declared a mistrial.

What about this case, where it goes from here? Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I hope that is the last time I ever have to listen to John Edwards give any kind of a speech in any set of circumstances. This was a difficult case, I think, for the government to make. They spent a lot of time and they spent a lot of money prosecuting it. And I have zero sympathy for John Edwards even though I sometimes as a Christian try.

But I do have a lot of sympathy for his parents. I mean, watching them in the background there is absolutely heartbreaking to see his mom and dad stand there by his side, you know, after all of the things that have been revealed about his failures as a human being. I think is just tragic.

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, you know, I am one of the fools who bought the goods.  I thought he was the real deal way back. I don't know if you guys remember the "Two Americas" speeches. And he was just such a charismatic figure. He really came into the Democratic, the ranks of Democratic contenders with a certain power and style that reminded people of John F. Kennedy. And he was coming from the South. He was a new Democrat. And to see it come to this is just so base, so awful, such a waste. I think --

BAIER: But yet, he is popping the champagne tonight.

WILLIAMS: Well you know, he is popping the champagne Bret on a short-term deal. He got off by the skin of his teeth. But let me ask you something, would you trust him to walk the dog? If you had a legal matter, would you go to John Edwards? If you had a political campaign, would you trust it to John Edwards? Do you think he can run for any office, even dogcatcher? I mean I'm not trying to be cruel, but I don't think it's there.

BAIER: Fall from grace, Dana?

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST, "THE FIVE": Certainly, this is a guy who ruined his life and got away with it. And across America, you could say well, he lost his reputation, but a lot of people are thinking well wait, are there two sets of rules for somebody like him, and then there's somebody like me? One curious thing, I don't think the government should retry this case. But I do wonder then, for everybody that gives a gift to somebody else, you have to declare that as income. So at some point is this money going to be declared as a gift? Then what was it? If everybody else gets taxed for it, then what was this if it wasn't illegal?

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I hate to be so cold and calculating about this but I think this will not be retried. And I think that's a good thing. There is a distinction between bad behavior and illegal behavior, and I'm glad that the jury upheld that. Because we have a tendency here to criminalize, to want to criminalize all bad behavior. And I think that the case for criminality here was extremely thin.

What I found most interesting is what he said after this where he said he wants to continue to work for the poor. And he used the phrase that Jesse Jackson had used in the Democratic convention of 1984 when he made a convention speech after losing the nomination. Jesse Jackson said "God is not finished with me yet." Well, Edwards used almost the same phrase. He said "God is not done with me yet," which had this echo. Jackson meant I'll have another shot at the presidency, I'll be in politics. I hope Edwards wasn't implying that, but that could have been an old trial balloon of somebody who's lost any prospect of a future in politics hoping that perhaps there'll be something. If he is hoping, he is delusional, so I hope he is not.

BAIER: Down the row is this case retried?





BAIER: Unanimous. Well, that was a whispered no. So, a firm no? --

HAYES: No. Absolutely not. No chance. Zero


KRAUTHAMMER: This was not a hung jury.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. Dana, thanks for coming.

PERINO: Thanks for having me.

BAIER: Stay tuned to see a misspelling that one show called a blessing.

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