The former U.S. Attorney who won an indictment against John Edwards defended the prosecution on Wednesday, as the Justice Department announced it was dropping the campaign finance case following an inconclusive trial.
George Holding, former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, told Politico’s Josh Gerstein that he’s not disappointed that DOJ Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer decided to walk away from the case.
“This is the way our system works and I respect the jury’s verdict,” Holding, a Republican running for a congressional seat in North Carolina, said. “I respect Mr. Breuer’s decision. He’s had the final say on this case from day one. I didn’t attend the trial….I’m not in a position to question his opinion.”
Two weeks ago, a jury in Greensboro, N.C., found Edwards not guilty on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions and could not reach a verdict on the remaining five counts. The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee was charged with using money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 presidential election in which he was a candidate.
Edwards had asked the court to dismiss the charges, calling them politically motivated. Even some Republicans had concerns about the motivation of Holding, a former staffer for the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.)
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington accurately predicted last year, “[T]he Edwards matter is likely to leave DOJ with egg on its face.”
Holding again denied politics had anything to do with the case and asserted it would have been a “dereliction of duty” not to pursue the matter.
“There were always going to be charges this is a political case,” he told Politico. “That just comes with the territory… I feel very comfortable that we did carry out our duties.”
Despite respecting the department’s decision to drop the case, Holding did say the holes in the prosecution seemed to come from Washington-based officials.
“It’s the job of the Public Integrity Section to run the traps with the FEC [Federal Election Commission] and handle all the Washington back-and-forth up there,” Holding said of the campaign finance regulatory agency, whose members, past and present, had expressed various degrees of opposition to the idea that Edwards’ personal conduct was a crime.