WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former presidential hopeful John Edwards plans to ask a judge to dismiss charges over alleged illegal campaign contributions because of problems with the grand jury that indicted him, among other reasons.
Edwards, a Democratic who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004 and 2008, was indicted on six counts of conspiracy, taking illegal contributions and making false statements in a bid to cover up an extramarital affair during the 2008 recent campaign.
His lawyers plan to file motions to dismiss by September 6, citing unspecified irregularities with the grand jury process, questions about the legal theory the charges are based on and defects in the indictment, among other reasons, according to a court filing made on Wednesday.
The 14-page filing did not elaborate on the defects or irregularities. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Edwards, a trial lawyer and former U.S. senator from North Carolina, has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.
Edwards’ legal team has also sought to delay the trial slated to begin in October because the court may want to hold hearings on those issues and because prosecutors are still turning over evidence they plan to introduce during the trial.
The indictment accused Edwards of secretly getting more than $900,000 to help cover up his affair with a campaign worker, Rielle Hunter, knowing that revelations of the liaison and her ensuing pregnancy would destroy his 2008 White House bid.
He initially denied having the affair with Hunter or giving her any money. The indictment said one of his key supporters gave money to an Edwards’ aide to pay for Hunter’s medical visits, prenatal care, rent, car and other living expenses.
His lawyers said that “no candidate has ever been prosecuted on this theory” that payments by one person to another third party unrelated to the campaign were actually campaign contributions despite not being used by Edwards’ campaign.
Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Philip Barbara