Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Cautionary Tale of John Edwards

If you want to understand what might happen to Trump, it is useful to revisit the John Edwards scandal.

Edwards was a promising but deeply flawed candidate for higher office. He had the ambition but not the character needed to be a leader. He put his own selfish needs ahead of the Democratic Party. He blundered into the 2008 race while trying to hide a mistress and a love child. Think about what would have happened to the Democrats at that time. If Edwards had beaten Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and won the nomination, the scandal of his extramarital affair would have blown the presidential campaign wide open. John McCain and Sarah Palin would have just finished up two terms in office. We were in the middle of a full-scale economic meltdown, and faced with Vice President Caribou Barbie. Thank God Barack Obama won. And thank God he picked Joe Biden to run with him. For a while there, it seemed like Edwards might have gotten the nod to be Vice President.

What some might not remember is that Edwards was indicted and put on trial for sums of money that pale in comparison to what Trump has been stealing:

The wealthy banking heiress and widow [Rachel "Bunny" Mellon] who was once a close friend of Jacqueline Kennedy had been a supporter of Edwards since the 2004 election. 

After already contributing to Edwards the maximum allowed by law, Mellon provided additional money. According to court documents, between June 2007 and January 2008, Mellon allegedly wrote personal checks payable to a friend, hiding that she was giving money to Edwards.

The checks were made out to the wife of Edwards aide Andrew Young, in her maiden name, and were deposited into accounts controlled by her and Young. As Edwards and Young planned, Young allegedly used the money to provide Hunter with rent, furniture, care, living expenses, medical visits and prenatal care.

In total, the now 101-year-old Mellon gave Edwards seven checks ranging from $10,000 to $200,000.

On October 10, 2007, the National Enquirer ran its first story saying Edwards was having an affair.

The next day while campaigning in Summerton, South Carolina, Edwards denied the report, calling it "tabloid trash." 

With tabloid reporters and photographers chasing Hunter and publishing photos of her pregnant, a second wealthy donor came forward. Fred Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer who is now deceased, was the national finance chair of the campaign.

Court documents show that from December 2007 to January 2008, Baron allegedly wrote nine checks ranging from $9,000 to $58,000. The money was used for Young to hide a pregnant Hunter from the media, as he falsely claimed paternity for her child. Baron's money was used to charter a private jet for trips to Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Aspen, Colorado; San Diego and Santa Barbara, California.

We're talking $200K in illegal donations? That's one person's fee to join the club at Mar-a-Lago. The money Trump's raking in at his hotel in Washington D.C. makes that look like loose change found in the seat cushions. Hell, Trump and his minions made tens of millions of dollars disappear from the Trump Inaugural Committee fund. Edwards went on trial for chump change compared to what Trump is stealing every day by charging fees and rent to the Secret Service.

What we need to remember is that the government occasionally screws these things up. Edwards was acquitted, and the Feds decided not to retry him. I guess there wasn't enough return on their investment here to justify trying to get a conviction.

Here's my point. Edwards was a whole lot smarter than Trump. Compare them side by side and you'll see what I mean. Edwards used a wealthy woman's money to hide his mistress. Trump has ordered his lawyers to pay them off, one by one, using shell corporations. He has left a paper trail that a blind bird dog could follow. Edwards couldn't pull it off, and what he tried was quaint compared to the scale of the corruption and greed being perpetrated by Trump, who is still actively involved in what his companies are doing. The Feds will not shy away from going after millions and millions of dollars if they think they can get it all back.

Does anyone really think that all of this won't catch up to Trump eventually?

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