The long tentacles of John Edwards criminal trial, which begins today, will drag in a host of familiar faces from his 2008 presidential campaign and a number of Obama administration officials. At the heart of the case is the scheme to coverup Edwards' extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter and whether the Edwards campaign broke the law by not identifying some $900,000 in coverup money as campaign contributions. Here are some of the major figures getting roped in to the case:
John Edwards. Obviously, the trail looms large for Edwards, whose political career is dead but who faces the loss of his law license and up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Of course, nobody expects him to get locked away for that long if he loses. According to Lucy Madson at CBS News, crucial to the prosecutions case will be showing that Edwards knew that the money he received from Bunny Mellon and Fred Baron qualified as a campaign contribution and knowingly broke the law.
Andrew Young. The former aide to Edwards is the government's key witness. According to NewsBeast's Howard Kurtz, "Young’s anticipated testimony—along with voice-mail messages and handwritten notes from Edwards that he saved—are considered so important to the case that the former top campaign staffer is expected to be the prosecution’s lead-off witness when the trial gets underway this week." Meanwhile, the lead defense attorney Abbe Lowell will try to discredit Young and tarnish his record. "Part of Lowell’s strategy involves casting doubt on Young’s characterization of why he decided to publicly claim paternity of the love child Edwards had with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter," writes Newsweek's Diane Dimond. "Young has claimed that he made the decision after seeing Edwards on a December 2007 cover of Newsweek and realizing the North Carolina senator had a good shot at becoming president."