John Edwards has fallen far enough from grace that a trial by the Justice Department is waste of time and money, Republicans Joe Scarborough and Michael Steele said Friday on “Morning Joe.”
“This is an absolute waste of resources right now. The man has gone through a huge public humiliation,” said Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman.
“Let him gather himself, pay whatever fines he needs to pay and then let him go back to his family and heal,” Steele said.
The former Democratic senator is facing six criminal counts related to nearly $1 million in secret campaign contributions paid to help hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 White House run. Jury selection began Thursday and opening arguments are scheduled to begin April 23. The trial was previously delayed because of Edwards was being treated for a heart condition.
If convicted, Edwards could face up to 30 years in prison and as much as $1.5 million in fines.
Steele’s remarks came at the prompting of “Morning Joe” co-host Scarborough, the former Florida GOP congressman, who wondered if anyone wanted to see Edwards imprisoned, particularly in light of the death of his wife, Elizabeth, in 2010, which left him with two young children without a mother.
“Is there anybody who disagrees with me that John Edwards’ family has suffered enough and that this is a waste of precious resources by the Justice Department?” Scarborough asked.
“They should slap him on the wrist, plea out a deal, and send him home to be with his daughter - his older daughter and two young children who lost a mom,” he said. “Does anybody want John Edwards thrown in jail? Anybody?”
Meanwhile, District Judge Catherine Eagles, who is overseeing the trial in North Carolina, told 180 potential jurors Thursday that they should focus on criminal charges, not Edwards’ behavior as a husband, according to The Associated Press.
“This is not a case about whether Mr. Edwards was a good husband or politician,” Eagles said from the bench. “It’s about whether he violated campaign finance laws. … The Constitution says trial by jury, not trial by Internet or trial by gossip.”
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