Ex-White House hopeful Edwards seeks to delay trial

WASHINGTON Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:36pm EST

Former U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful and former U.S. Senator John Edwards makes a brief statement to the press outside of the U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to six federal criminal felony charges in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, June 3, 2011. REUTERS/Davis Turner

Former U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful and former U.S. Senator John Edwards makes a brief statement to the press outside of the U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to six federal criminal felony charges in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, June 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Davis Turner

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for former presidential hopeful John Edwards on Thursday asked for a two-month postponement of his trial over allegations he broke campaign finance laws to hide an extramarital affair, citing in part an undisclosed "medical issue."

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, taking illegal campaign contributions and making false statements in a bid to keep the affair secret. The trial is due to start late next month.

His lawyers asked for the delay because of the medical matter and provided details in a document filed under seal in a federal court in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Edwards "has unexpectedly encountered a medical issue which makes the trial of this case in the January 2012 criminal term extraordinarily difficult," his lawyers told the court. "This medical issue cannot be resolved before the end of the January 2012 criminal term."

Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina and John Kerry's vice presidential running mate in 2004, did not show any outward signs of illness during a court hearing last week.

The lawyers also argued that the case was particularly complex and they needed more time to prepare for trial.

At issue is the more than $900,000 prosecutors said was provided by two wealthy supporters to help Edwards cover up the affair and a child conceived with his former campaign videographer during his failed bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Edwards initially denied having the liaison with Rielle Hunter or paying her any money. The indictment said the supporters gave money to an Edwards aide to pay for Hunter's medical visits, prenatal care, rent, car, air travel and other living expenses.

Edwards faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count if convicted.

(Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Paul Simao)

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