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Partial Verdict Reached in John Edwards Trial; Obama Targets Romney's Time as Governor; Battle over "Gendercide"; Edwards Not Guilty on Count #3

Aired May 31, 2012 - 16:00   ET


GLORIA BORGER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: a legal mess in the John Edwards corruption trial. The jury reaches a verdict, but on only one count. And the judge orders them to keep trying.

And the Obama campaign targets Mitt Romney's term as governor of Massachusetts and launches an attack on his home turf. But the Democrats run into some very rowdy Republicans who shout down Obama's team.

Plus, laughs, tears, and not a lot of politics at the White House unveiling of George W. Bush's official portrait. You will see how the former president stole the show.

Wolf Blitzer's off today. I'm Gloria Borger and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And we have got a lot of breaking news today. The jury in the John Edwards' federal corruption trial reaches a verdict on just one of the six counts against the one-time presidential hopeful. The defense asks for a mistrial, but the judge tells the jury they have got to keep at it.

So let's go straight to CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns. He's in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Joe, what is going on down there?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it gets stranger and stranger every minute.

Quite frankly, just a few minutes ago, Gloria, we got the word to stay tuned. It may not be over yet, even for today. The jury just sent yet another note to Judge Catherine Eagles here in Greensboro. We're waiting to hear the contents of that note. They have been a very communicative juror. And it could be that they just want to talk about scheduling.

Of course, 4:30 Eastern time is usually around the time this jury breaks for the day. However, recapping, it's been a very unusual and probably the most extraordinary day in the entire trial here in Greensboro. That is because that, earlier this afternoon, we got word that the jury had, in fact, reached a verdict in this six-count indictment against John Edwards. But when they got into the courtroom, it became clear that they had reached a verdict on only one of the six counts. That would be the third count, which is a count of accepting illegal campaign donations from 2008 from a woman named Bunny Mellon, Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, from Northern Virginia, a 101-year-old woman who's very rich, who back in 2008, when John Edwards was running for president, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars, ostensibly, for a personal purpose, her friends said.

Nonetheless, the prosecution has always alleged that this money was intended to keep the campaign aspirations of John Edwards alive. As to the other five counts in the indictment, no decision yet. So, the judge, after conferring with the lawyers, administered what is known as an Allen charge. This is a charge, a series of words, a few paragraphs that she reads to tell the jury to try harder, to go back and reconsider your positions, if you feel that's appropriate, and told them to go back to work.

That's where we stand right now. But the immediate thing, Gloria, is we want to hear what this next note is, whether it has to do with scheduling or some other matter, or if it, in fact, relates to their deliberations and reaching a verdict on some of those other counts -- Gloria.

BORGER: OK, Joe, thanks so much for keeping us up to date on that and I'm sure you will be doing that throughout the next few hours.

And let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin.

Jeff, you have called this a mess, which I think is a pretty accurate description. Is there any way out of this now without a mistrial?


I mean, there is plenty of precedent for a jury having struggled, eventually coming together and reaching a full verdict. What's unusual about this situation is that instead of saying, look, we are hopelessly divided on everything, they did reach a verdict on one count.

That presents additional complexities, because if there is a verdict on that one count, the jury -- there could -- and a mistrial on the remainder, the jury -- the case could be retried on the five counts, but it is very awkward to retry a case where there's been a partial verdict.

That's why the strategic situation here is the defense is saying, let's take the verdict, let's end the trial, mistrial, end of story.


TOOBIN: They are gambling that they won on the single count.

They are gambling on an acquittal in count three. The prosecution is saying, let's send the jury back to work. Let's hope to resolve the full case. And so far, at least, the judge has sided with the prosecution, but there's another note that we don't know the contents of, and this story is really changing minute to minute.

BORGER: You know, this is a very complex case. It's about campaign finance law. It's very arcane. It's been kind of sordid, but it's a very difficult case to really prosecute here.

You're asking these jurors to kind of decide what's a campaign contribution and what isn't a campaign contribution. So, I guess we have to ask the question. In asking a jury to really try and do this, and they're clearly working at it, did the prosecution blow it?

TOOBIN: Well, I think we need to reserve judgment on that until we see what the jury does.

This, I think, was a very marginal case. This was a case that not every U.S. attorney in the country would bring. You know, it is important to remember that 99 out of 100 criminal appeals fail. You know, appeals courts generally affirm jury verdicts.

If this case ends in a conviction, I think Edwards will have a very serious chance at winning and over -- having his case overturned. There are judge who is simply would not approve of a prosecution like this.

The issue is so complicated and the legal question is so difficult that I think there are some appeals courts who would simply just throw this case out.

BORGER: Well, it's not only that the legal questions are difficult, but what's also been interesting to me to watch this is that all of the major players are absent, either because they have died or because Edwards is not testifying himself, or because they're aging, like Bunny Mellon, who's over 100 years old.

So that makes it more difficult too, doesn't it?

TOOBIN: Gloria, I have never seen a criminal trial with more of the protagonists offstage.

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: The two people who gave the money, what was their intent? That's obviously a critical issue in this case. Did they think it was a gift?

BORGER: We don't know. Right.

TOOBIN: Exactly, we don't know, because Bunny Mellon is 101 years old and Fred Baron died suddenly and unexpectedly.

Elizabeth Edwards, alas, as we all know, died. Rielle Hunter, whose behavior, who is the -- in many respects, the protagonist of this case, she wasn't called by the prosecution or the defense. And, of course, John Edwards, as was his privilege under the Fifth Amendment, chose not to testify.

The only key person who testified in this trial was Andrew Young, who served essentially as the bag man, the intermediary between the donors of the money.

BORGER: And he's not above reproach, right?

TOOBIN: To say the least, to say the least.

He admitted on the witness stand that some substantial amount of the money that Bunny Mellon gave went into his pocket and his wife's pocket and went to build their dream house in North Carolina, which is a very favorable fact for the defense in this case, because how could it be a campaign contribution if it went to build this guy's house?

But, again, it's one of the many complexities in this case. But he is the only major figure whom the jury actually heard from in the course of this trial.

BORGER: OK, Jeff Toobin, thanks so much.

And, of course, we will be calling you here on set again to stand by, yes, to see what happens in this case.


BORGER: It's so interesting and unresolved. Thanks a lot, Jeff.

And President Obama's team launches an all-out attack on Mitt Romney's record and has tough words for anyone who disagrees.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't handle the truth, my friends. That's the problem.


BORGER: They are bringing their case to Romney's home turf. And to say it got lively is really an understatement. Stand by.

Plus, a gotcha moment staged by anti-abortion activists and caught on tape, how could it play into the race for the White House?

And it kind of felt like a flashback to 2008 in the East Room today. Former President George W. Bush returned to the White House and he had everybody laughing. Stay with us.


BORGER: And Jack Cafferty's here with "The Cafferty File."

What do you have, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, Gloria. Europe's financial crisis, a warning siren for the United States, but many Americans aren't paying attention. A new Gallup poll shows only 16 percent of those surveyed say they're following the news about Europe's crisis very closely; 33 percent say somewhat closely; 21 percent say not too closely, 29 percent not at all.

The poll also shows, even though all Americans aren't paying attention, 71 percent are concerned about the impact of the European financial crisis on our economy. That includes 31 percent who are very concerned. It's been suggested that Americans' concern about Europe might be higher if more people were actually paying attention, and it's too bad they're not.

What's going on in Europe is a big part of the reason why we have seen such recent volatility in U.S. markets. The Dow Jones industrial average up only five days for the entire month of May, that hasn't happened in 43 years. If Europe continues to spiral downward, we could see a drop in U.S. exports, less European investment in the United States, U.S. banks could decrease lending here at home due to worries about their exposure in Europe.

Meanwhile, things are going from bad to worse in Europe. On top of concerns about Greece's debt crisis, Spain is dealing with a huge banking crisis. Many of Spain's large banks are crippled by bad debt. Money is fleeing the country in massive amounts.

Portugal, Ireland, and of course Greece have already had to seek international bailouts due to high borrowing costs by their governments. In the case of Greece, the citizens made it very clear in the last election they're not interested in the government spending less money. They want their handouts, come hell or high water.

Sound familiar? Oh, and our government isn't paying attention either. Many of the things leading Europe deeper into crisis are running rampant right here, and Washington does nothing.

Here's the question. Most Americans aren't too focused on Europe's financial crisis. Should we be?

Go to and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Gloria.

BORGER: Thanks, Jack. I think we do need to pay attention to that, but I will e-mail you. Thanks a lot.

A caught-on-tape gotcha moment staged by anti-abortion activists has helped to push House Republicans for a new anti-abortion law. That bid was just voted down. But the entire drama may be tied into the battle for the women's vote this November.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is digging into this.

Dana, strange story.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much so. As you well know, abortion is always a highly emotional and divisive, politically, issue, but what the House voted on today, which Republicans call gendercide, takes the emotion and the politics to a whole new level.


BASH (voice-over): What you're looking at is a sting operation, an anti-abortion actor undercover at a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, pretending to want an abortion if she's having a girl. A Planned Parenthood staffer helps, giving detailed advice on how to find out the baby's gender.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But do you think I still just shouldn't worry about telling them that I'm -- that I would be terminating if it's a girl?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just keep it quiet and then come here?

PLANNED PARENTHOOD STAFFER: Yes, I would -- I would probably -- because more than likely, they -- I mean they could even refuse to see you if you're just going to terminate.

BASH: Planned Parenthood released a statement saying it condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias, and it fired its employee caught on tape appearing to do just that.

In another video from New York City, a social worker doesn't support it, but doesn't condemn it either.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD STAFFER: That's just your decision.

BASH: It's no accident that Lila Rose, a young anti-abortion activist whose group carried out the sting released these edited videos this week.

LILA ROSE, LIVE ACTION: We're missing these girls and that should cause all of us distress.

BASH: Rose carefully coordinated with House Republicans, pushing new anti-abortion legislation banning what they call gendercide.

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: We are going to allow little girls to be killed before they're born, simply because they are little girls.

BASH: On to the legislation, doctors who knowingly perform abortions chosen because of gender would face up to five years in prison and fines. Abortion providers could also be subject to civil penalties, including punitive monetary damages.

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: Today, the three most dangerous words in China and India are, "It's a girl." We can't let that happen here.

BASH: Republican authors of the bill cite multiple studies claiming evidence of a rising number of U.S. abortions based on the sex of the fetus. But abortion rights advocates take issue with the studies. The reality is, it's hard to know the truth about such a private issue.

Politically, Republicans are trying to turn the Democrats' charge that there's a GOP war on women on its head.

SMITH: This, Mr. Speaker, is the real war on women.

BASH: Democrats called the legislation a political stunt.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Attempts to restrict or deny access to safe abortions is harmful to women's health and would ultimately take us back to the days of back alley abortions.


BASH: Now, the bill got 246 votes, well over a majority of support in the House, but it still didn't pass. Why? Now, Republicans who run the House, they structured this to allow only a limited debate and require a two-thirds majority to win approval. And that didn't happen. So that allowed Republican leaders to highlight the issue of abortion, but avoid an extended debate on it, and that, Gloria, would take away from the issue that is number one for them politically, which of is course is the economy.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN ANCHOR: So are you telling me there are political games being played on the House floor?

BASH: Are you shocked?

BORGER: Totally shocked. Dana Bash, thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you.

BORGER: And President Obama's re-election team goes into serious attack mode and does it on Mitt Romney's home turf. But did they expect all of this heckling?

And one couple's marriage gets off to a rough and very scary start. What happened that as the husband saying he cried?


BORGER: Several explosions have rocked Baghdad. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Lisa, what do you have?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Gloria. At least 14 people are dead and dozens injured from multiple explosions over a three-hour period. The bombs went off in both Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods and it's unclear who committed the attacks or even if they're linked. The attacks come after an especially violent April, in which the interior ministry says 126 people were killed.

The Pakistani Taliban are vowing to kill the doctor who helped the U.S. find Osama bin Laden. A Taliban spokesman tells CNN, quote, "We will cut him into pieces when we find him. He spied for the U.S. to hunt down our hero, Osama bin Laden," end quote. A court sentenced Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison, not for helping the U.S., but for his alleged ties to Pakistani militant group.

And talk about a bad way to start a marriage. A newly married couple was driving down Interstate 95 in Florida when a six-foot metal pole came crashing through the windshield. The couple was covered in glass, but overall OK, just obviously terrified when they realized how close the pole came to hitting them. Investigators aren't sure where that pole came from. But very, very lucky when you look at those pictures, Gloria.

BORGER: They are.

SYLVESTER: I'm glad they're OK.

BORGER: I'd want to know where that pole came from, I tell you. Wow. Thanks, Lisa.

And an attack team from the Obama campaign runs into some pro- Romney hecklers.


DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN: You can shout down speakers, my friends, but it's hard to etch a sketch the truth away.


BORGER: Did the Democrats make a mistake by launching an expensive in Mitt Romney's backyard? I'll ask deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BORGER: And we have breaking news from the John Edwards' trial. Let's go right to Joe Johns -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, what we have found out now, as we told you earlier, the jury had reached a decision on count three. Now, Gloria, we do know, the jury found John Edwards not guilty on count three, in this six-count indictment. On the other charges after a note and some long discussion, the judge has concluded and taken the jury's word for the fact that they're deadlocked on the other five issues in this indictment.

So, John Edwards is not guilty. That's where we stand right now, looking for a little bit more color in the courtroom. The long and short of it, after a long trial, huge expense by the federal government, and now the ninth day of deliberation here in Greensboro, North Carolina, John Edwards found not guilty on one count, the jury deadlocked on the other five charges.

BORGER: And, Joe, that count, count three, was illegal campaign contributions from Bunny Mellon in the year of 2008, because she'd also given him some contributions in 2007.

JOHNS: That's right.

BORGER: So the does that tell us anything about the way this jury is thinking? Because, of course, Bunny Mellon has not testified herself.

JOHNS: Well, as my understanding is that the jury has, the jury's been dismissed. So on these other counts, it seems very much as if they're deadlocked on it and the judge has decided they're not going to be able to reach a decision. Of course, the question would be, whether the United States government would want to retry on those other charges that the jury was deadlocked on.

The thinking here at the federal court has been that the federal government would be very unlikely to try to retry, because it's very complicated case, and the facts and the law blurry in many ways. So a jury coming back in this posture isn't all that surprising. A lot of people predicted from the very start that this case against John Edwards was going nowhere and that seems to be borne out here.

BORGER: Ad let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin.

We've just learned, Jeff, that the jury has been dismissed for the day --

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, wait, not for the day, they're gone.

BORGER: They're gone.

TOOBIN: This trial is over.

BORGER: This trial is over?

TOOBIN: John -- let me just clarify that with Joe, I mean, but that's my understanding.

BORGER: OK, we now have the mistrial confirmed. We did not have that before.


BORGER: So let's just reset the table here.

TOOBIN: Right.

BORGER: What we have is that he was acquitted, John Edwards was acquitted on count three and the rest of the trial, thrown away.

TOOBIN: There is no verdict on the other five.

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: So the question now is, will the Department of Justice decide to retry him, start this whole trial all over again, on the five counts, where there was a hung jury. My strong sense is, the answer to that question is no. There's a new administration. This case was begun under the George W. Bush administration. This was an enormously expensive trial, where there was not a lot of jail time likely to be given in any case.

John Edwards is no longer an American political figure. I would find it inconceivable that this trial would be retried. So to be clear, John Edwards won this trial and the Department of Justice lost this trial.

It's not as clean as a straight-out acquittal, but the happy team today is Abbe Lowell and his defense team and the unhappy team are the United States Attorney's Office in North Carolina, who brought this case.

This was a win for John Edwards, and there will be a lot of questions asked about why this case was brought at all.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN ANCHOR: And let's bring Joe Johns back in, who has some more from on-scene -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, well, I mean, that's exactly right, and that's the end of it. This trial was, it was kind of remarkable, from the very start.

Some people called it a political prosecution, here, just because it was a Republican United States attorney, if you buy that, bringing these charges against John Edwards.

And a lot of people said it was about sex and the fact that John Edwards cheated on his wife, who was dying of cancer. And these are the kinds of arguments that sort of came up before the jury here.

Abbe Lowell, who clearly has won probably one of the biggest cases in his career, in a career of big cases, argued to the jury that John Edwards committed many sins, but no crimes.

And apparently, the jury bought that on the one count that they could actually reach a verdict on. On the other five, a mistrial in some very difficult circumstances, where, you know, the facts of the law are not clear.

So I guess what this tells you is, it's a tough day for the United States government, the Justice Department. You know -- and maybe it's too early to start talking about this, but the United States Justice Department has brought some other huge cases and had some real disasters.

The one that comes to mind, immediately, is the case of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. This was a conviction that they got that had to be overturned, thrown out because of multiple allegations of prosecutorial conduct.

Now the Justice Department has really got to be sitting back thinking, gosh, what do we have to do to get a big defendant locked up because it certainly didn't happen today?

BORGER: Jeff, I want to bring you in here, because I know you're thinking that the government would probably not re-file on this. What's the impact in the long-term on campaign finance law, if any?

It's so complicated. It's so obtuse. And these cases, as we saw today, are very difficult to bring.

TOOBIN: And add to that stew of complexity that it's a moving target.


TOOBIN: This case involves conduct that took place before the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, which is the case from 2010 where the court said that corporations have the unlimited right to give as much money as they want in support of political candidates.

Now, why that is relevant to this case is that they -- the Supreme Court has found that the act of giving money to political campaigns is more protected by the first amendment than many of us and many courts had thought, for many, many years.

So it's entirely possible that the whole notion of bringing criminal cases, based on campaign contributions is much more difficult than it used to be, since 2010.

BORGER: Well, then, how do you enforce the law? How do you enforce the law then?

TOOBIN: Well, I think you don't.

BORGER: If there are no teeth?

TOOBIN: You don't. I think one of the things the Supreme Court has said is we want this law deregulated. We want less government involvement than there has been.

This was the key fight between the five justices in the majority and the four justices in the dissent in the Citizens United case where the majority, Anthony Kennedy, wrote the opinion.

He said, look, giving money to political campaigns is an act of political activity that is protected by the first amendment. And we don't want the government overly involved in that process. Criminal process is a great deal of government involvement.

So I think we are going to see many fewer cases brought, of any kind, trying to enforce the campaign finance laws, because the Supreme Court has said we want more deregulation in this area.

We want more freedom from government regulation because the first amendment says that money is speech, which is, of course, the famous line --

BORGER: And before we get -- before we get back to Joe Johns to tell us a little bit about John Edwards and what's going on in Greensboro, I want to bring in Paul Begala, who is part of a "Super PAC," who works with a Democratic "Super PAC."

What's your read on this and what this means for organizations like yours, which raise money for Democrats?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes , it is -- first, just let me say, this is one of those days where I'm glad I paid my cable bill so I can listen to Toobin explain this. He just brings such clarity to it.

BORGER: Me too.

BEGALA: The political side of it, Gloria, is it's the wild, wild west. I mean, we got no laws. We don't need no stinking badges. It's really ashamed. Now I do advice the pro-Obama "Super PAC, Priorities USA Action."

But I would like to work myself out of a job and actually wish -- and I know the Supreme Court watches, because they're very close to Toobin, I wish they'd rethink Citizens United.

This is nuts to have a system where people can give millions and millions of dollars in this -- I'm participating in it. I'm part of the problem I suppose in that sense, but at least I understand it's a problem.

In terms of the Edwards prosecution, I think even without Citizens United, my guess is, it's tough to get jurors to say that having your wealthy friends support your mistress and new baby was a campaign donation.

I think that might have been the problem with the jurors. I have no idea, I haven't talked to them. But I think that's a bit of a stretch.

It's in the like these millionaire supporters of Edwards were secretly running television ads, which is what campaigns generally do. Campaigns generally don't buy houses or rent for mistresses and babies.

BORGER: Thanks a lot, Paul. And we're going to come back to talk more about this Edwards verdict. We have a producer who was there inside the courtroom.

We know, just to recap, and we'll be coming back to talk about this, that John Edwards was acquitted on one count and a mistrial on the other five counts. Stay with us. You want to hear our producer who's coming out of the courtroom as we speak. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: Breaking news today. In case you just joined us, there's been a verdict in the John Edwards corruption case, and John Edwards has been acquitted on one count. The other five counts have been declared a mistrial.

We're waiting to see if John Edwards will come out and speak or whether his attorney, Abbe Lowell, will come out and speak. Whether the government will come out and speak.

Right now, we've got Joe Johns with us, our correspondent on the scene in Greensboro, with our producer, who was in the courtroom for all of the events, heard the verdict being read. That would be Ted Metzger.

Let me go to you, Joe, and get a sense of what it's been like there today.

JOHNS: Right. Well, you know, a crazy day here in Greensboro, quite frankly and for John Edwards, obviously a very big day for him. This was a huge risk for John Edwards, when you think about it.

He decided not to take a plea deal, according to multiple reports, and decided to fight it out here because among other things, he wanted to be able to keep his law license.

And so it turns out to be a success for him. Not guilty on count three of this six-count indictment. The other five counts now a mistrial. The jury was not able to reach a decision in those other five counts.

So a huge day for John Edwards and his defense team, led by Washington attorney, many have called a super lawyer, Abbe Lowell. With me right now is my producer, Ted Metzger, who was in the courtroom and couldn't get out because the judge had threatened all of us with a contempt citation.


JOHNS: And you saw what went on in the courtroom. Give us some sense and some of the flavor of what was happening there, Ted.

METZGER: Well, it was interesting, because it was a very short time before the judge had instructed the jury to go back and deliberate, and they came back with a note that they gave the lawyers to read, including John Edwards got a copy to read along with his lawyers.

Of this note where the jury said they had exhausted all the possible options and Edwards read the note carefully, didn't really give much expression when he first read the note, but had his glasses on, went over with it with his lawyers.

The judge brought the jury back in. After the jury was back in, she went over the charges with the jury. The jury said they were not guilty on count three.

On the other counts, they said they had exhausted all the possible options to reach a verdict and Edwards really had an expression of relief, but also an expression of pain that this might have to go on.

And Cate gave his reassurance, but it was a moment of mixed emotions for John Edwards in that courtroom.

JOHNS: Right. So there wasn't really any cheering because the judge had admonished everybody in the courtroom, I don't want any cheering. It was dead quiet?

METZGER: It was dead quiet in there. There was not even, you know, gasps or anything -- everyone was just intently watching what was going on. And there really wasn't even any reaction from the jury of any kind.

The jury stays very stoic through the whole time. Some of them looked to the court watchers for the very first time. They were probably instructed not to do that throughout the trial.

I saw one juror, juror one, take a long look at the members of the court watchers for the very first time. So it was really an interesting moment, which is sort of an anti-climatic moment, because there really wasn't much resolution for John Edwards.

There wasn't much resolution for this judge. There wasn't much resolution for this jury.

JOHNS: But I take it there were no contempt citations issued in this courtroom, because this judge at times have been very tough on the audience and the attorneys.

METZGER: Right. And none of the marshals called anybody out in the audience. She didn't say anything to anyone in the audience about bad behavior. And it was really restrained.

In fact, one of the least restrained people was Abbe Lowell, who had sort of a cheshire grin on his face, and started looking at the journalists in the audience.

And sort of taking credit for what he thought was an ill- advised case in the first place, and really was quite possibly the most expressive person courtroom.

JOHNS: Absolutely, and he hasn't been expressive for quite a while, I can tell you that from seeing Abbe Lowell around this courtroom. He's looked quite worried and had his head down and, you know, just didn't want to talk to anyone, quite frankly. Gloria, back to you.

BORGER: Joe and Ted, I would like to ask you this to sort of explain to our viewers how John Edwards could have been acquitted on one count, which was campaign contributions from Bunny Mellon in 2008, but they couldn't decide on the other campaign contributions, from her -- wait a minute, excuse me --

JOHNS: Well, it's clear they were having problems --

BORGER: Here we are seeing a live departure.

JOHNS: What'd you say, Gloria?

BORGER: We're watching the jurors leave the courthouse right now, Joe. I'm sorry to interrupt you. Go ahead. Go ahead.

JOHNS: OK, yes. Right, I mean, these are jurors that we have not been allowed to take pictures of or to speak with ever since the beginning of this trial. So it's obviously a moment of freedom for those people. I believe it was -- what was the count?

It was something like seven and five, maybe seven men, five women, and then there were four alternates along those lines. The one thing I can tell you, also, is that when I was sitting and watching some of these developments.

This is when the note first came that there was actually a verdict on the one count, though we didn't know what it was, John Edwards was the most active of the people in the courtroom.

He was looking around. I saw him two or three times in the space of like 5 minutes, pouring water. Obviously, he was a little parched and clearly, very nervous.

Because I can't tell you what a gamble this was for this man who ran for president twice, twice, and once was actually on the ticket as John Kerry's vice presidential nominee, to find himself facing the possibility of 30 years in prison.

So a huge day for him and clearly, a huge day for Abbe Lowell, not to mention some of these other lawyers. The other, little fine point I've been trying to get on TV for the longest time, that's just interesting to me personally. There are so many ties in this case.

And one of the most fascinating ties I've found is Andrew Young, who was a star witness for the prosecution in this case, whose credibility was attacked again and again by Abbe Lowell.

Allison Van Laningham, who was a key defense attorney, who did the opening statement for the defense in this case, and the prosecutor, George Holden, all three of these people, somehow, crossed paths in the same class in law school at Wake Forest.

BORGER: Small world.

JOHNS: -- which is a little-known fact that the attorneys passed on to me.

BORGER: Small world.

JOHNS: It is a very small world, and now they meet in this "Titanic" clash over campaign finance payments here in Greensboro, North Carolina. BORGER: OK, Joe, I want you and Ted to stay there. We are awaiting a statement from possibly John Edwards, his attorney, Abbe Lowell, the prosecution.

This is a man, John Edwards, who took a big gamble and a rejected a plea agreement and it worked out for him. Stay tuned. We'll finally be hearing from him.


BORGER: And we're back with the breaking news in the verdict of the John Edwards trial. John Edwards' acquitted on one count, and as you see there, a mistrial declared on all the rest of the counts.

There were six counts in all. This is someone who could have had a plea agreement. John Edwards, he rejected this plea agreement. He took a huge risk and today it seemed to pay off for him.

Again, John Edwards acquitted on one count and a mistrial declared on the five other counts. We have a team with us, analyzing every bit of this today.

And let me start with our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin. Jeff, this is a jury that has deliberated for 50 hours on this case. You're a former federal prosecutor. You know what it's like to deal with juries like this.

And take us inside what you think must have been going on in that jury room, as it tried to dissect this incredibly complex case about campaign finance reform.

After all, yes, it was scandalous, but at the very base of it was a case that maybe they could never have been able to decide.

TOOBIN: Well, what made this case so difficult is something that comes up often in white collar criminal cases, which is that it is, like the lawyers like to say, an intent case. The broad outlines of the facts were very much agreed on between both sides.

There was no doubt that Bunny Mellon, the heiress in Virginia, and Fred Baron, the trial lawyer in Texas, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, which they intended to be used for the sort of Rielle Hunter and her baby. That was agreed.

The question in the case was, what was inside John Edwards' head? What did he think? Did he think that money was a campaign contribution that needed to be reported or did he think that this was simply money that meant to go to his family and to support his extremely complicated and unfortunate family situation?

So what was so difficult for the jury is trying to figure out what was inside John Edwards' head. That's, in many respects, harder than a traditional sort of blue-collar crime cases. Did the murder take place? You know, did John Doe commit the murder?

Are those his fingerprints? Was that his DNA? When you're talking about figuring out what's inside someone's head, it's often very hard to get 12 people to agree.

Especially when you did not have John Edwards' on the witness stand or any of the protagonists, including, of course, the two people who actually gave the money, Mellon and Fred Baron.

BORGER: Let me bring in Paul Begala here. Paul, you've known John Edwards quite well. You've seem what he's gone through during this trial. If you were advising him right now, would you say come out and speak?

BEGALA: I guess if I were advising him, I would say, come to the airport and move to New Zealand. As a political matter, of course, he's through. I hate to use such a harsh word, but he's a despised figure.

What really bother me, I never worked for John Edwards, OK, but as a former political staffer for a lot of politicians, it was the pain of the parade of those former aides who invested their time and their talent in this guy and who believed in him.

And then were rewarded by having to be dragged through the most tawdry criminal trial. They were never charged with anything, of course, they didn't do anything wrong, but the pain those women and men went through is extraordinary.

My heart goes out to them. They did not deserve this. Of course, the case may not have been a meritorious case to begin with, but the whole thing is just so sordid.

But the sense that he'll go and practice law again, maybe, but I can tell you as a political matter, he's got maybe a popularity, a favorable rating of 3, 4, 5.

I mean, it's not like juries are going to look at him as a trial lawyer again and say, I can trust him.

BORGER: Right. Joe Johns, let me bring you in here because you and I both cover politics. And Paul Begala was talking about those campaign aides coming, being pained about testifying in this case. Doesn't this show us how little we really know when we cover a campaign about what's occurring behind the scenes?

JOHNS: Absolutely. And it's just incredible. Ted and I are talking about, four years ago, 2008, January, that was right around the time of a big debate that we were all at in South Carolina, had no clue all of this was swirling behind the scenes.

In fact, a lot of people dismissed the notion that this tabloid stuff about John Edwards that came out could possibly have been true, but turns out, it was.

BORGER: I mean, you can't make this stuff up. Thanks so much, Joe Johns. And stay with us. We'll be right back. We're awaiting possible statements from John Edwards, from his attorney, Abbe Lowell and the prosecution. Stay tuned.