Does John Edwards deserve a plea deal?

Having allegedly used presidential campaign funds to cover up a scandalous affair, Edwards is reportedly looking to avoid an embarrassing trial... for a price

John Edwards
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Disgraced former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is reportedly seeking a plea deal before prosecutors charge him with using $1 million from wealthy donors to hide an affair with Rielle Hunter, the campaign videographer then pregnant with Edwards' child. Word is that the Justice Department has decided to formally indict the former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee. If Edwards can reach an agreement with prosecutors, he could avoid an embarrassing trial, but he'd likely have to give up his law license and maybe even spend some time behind bars. A fitting end to this scandal?

Edwards' fate should be decided in court: "Since when is a law license a 'get out of jail free' card?" says John Cole at Balloon Juice. Edwards' legal team apparently wants prosecutors to give Edwards a huge break because he would be sacrificing his livelihood to make this whole scandal go away. "You know who else loses their livelihood when they are found breaking the law? Everyone else on the planet." But you don't see regular guys avoiding messy trials by promising to stop delivering pizzas.

"Since when was a law license a get out of jail free card"

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A plea deal would help prosecutors, too: Prosecutors might welcome a negotiated agreement as readily as Edwards would, says Emma Mustich at Salon. For the prosecution to prove Edwards' guilt, "Edwards must be proven to have knowingly used the money to 'further his presidential aspirations.'" That won't be easy, and a plea deal might be the best prosecutors can hope for.

"Federal indictment looms for John Edwards"

But a deal would be a letdown for the nation: A plea agreement "would suck for Edwards," says Nicole Fabian-Weber at The Stir, as it would force him to admit wrongdoing and swear off practicing law forever. But the man is "a first class low-life, who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife." Elizabeth Edwards had to endure unthinkable humiliation before she died. If Edwards avoids a long trial, the nation will miss out on the opportunity to watch him squirm, and that doesn't seem fair.

"Prosecuting John Edwards is too little, too late"

Edwards is the one getting unfair treatment: "Edwards is a cad and an opportunist and he did severe damage to his family and to those with whom he worked, not to mention people who voted for him in good conscience," says Prairie Weather. "But he is a mere speck of pond scum" compared to the parade of far more corrupt candidates and elected officials who have gone unpunished over the last three decades. You have to wonder what motive the Justice Department has for singling out Edwards.

"Department of Justice v. John Edwards"

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