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Posted at 02:58 PM ET, 05/25/2011

Reports: John Edwards may face criminal charges

John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate, may soon face federal campaign-finance charges stemming from an admitted affair with a former campaign aide, according to several news organizations.

Justice Department prosecutors have been investigating whether Edwards funneled money from political donors to Rielle Hunter, his mistress and the mother of his youngest child, to try to cover up the affair.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that Edwards’s lawyers are attempting to negotiate a “last-ditch plea agreement” with the Justice Department on Wednesday to try to avert felony charges. If no agreement is reached, according to the Journal’s sources, “Justice Department prosecutors are expected to seek a grand-jury indictment against Mr. Edwards.”

CNN reports that the Justice Department has “authorized federal prosecutors to bring criminal charges” against Edwards, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004. Like the Journal, CNN also says charges could be avoided if prosecutors reach a deal with Edwards’s lawyers. The news organization cited multiple unnamed sources.

The New York Times is reporting that federal prosecutors have decided to charge the former senator, according to “a person close to Mr. Edwards.”

“D.O.J. has made its decision to move forward with charges,” the person told the Times in an e-mail. “This phase of the case is moving rapidly toward conclusion,” the person added, but did not clarify whether this meant that an indictment was coming or that a plea bargain was in the works.

The Times further reports that Hunter, who worked for Edwards’s presidential campaign as a videographer, has been shopping around a book, according to “two publishing executives.”

The news that Edwards may face charges was first reported Tuesday night by ABC News.

The federal investigation has been underway since at least early 2009, when Edwards confirmed that political groups linked to him are among the potential targets of a probe into his finances in the aftermath of his affair with Hunter. In January 2010, after months of denials, Edwards admitted to being the father of Hunter’s daughter, Quinn. Shortly after, Edwards separated from his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, who died after a long bout with cancer in December.

By  |  02:58 PM ET, 05/25/2011

 
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