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The Rise & Fall Of John Edwards

7:39 PM, Apr 22, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Federal prosecutors and the defense team for former US Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards will be in court here Monday, as they finalize a jury and begin Edwards' criminal trial.

Once they're seated, the jurors will decide whether Edwards is guilty of breaking campaign finance laws and making false statements. It's the latest chapter in a twisted fairy tale that won't have a happily ever after.

The story seemed destined for perfection in 1998. Maybe it was the way he held his daughter, flashed that smile or seemed to always know the right thing to say. But when North Carolinians elected Edwards to be one of their senators, many people seemed smitten.

His political future looked limitless, and less than three years later, he took the next step.

Edwards cultivated a family-first image. And when NBC's "Today" show asked him about his priorities as he announced his candidacy, how could you not love his answer?

"There's nothing more important in the world to me than my family and my kids [and my wife] Elizabeth," he said on the January 2003 show.

But from there, things fell apart. Edwards lost the bid to become president, signed on as Sen. John Kerry's running mate and failed to win the White House. On the day in November 2004 when Kerry and Edwards conceded, Elizabeth announced she had cancer.

Edwards started another run for Washington, DC in 2006. Within months, Elizabeth announced her cancer was incurable and the National Enquirer broke the story of his affair and child with Rielle Hunter.

By January 2008, yet another presidential campaign had fallen short. In August, Edwards admitted the affair, but denied Hunter's child was his for almost two more years.

Elizabeth Edwards died in December 2010. And in June of last year, a grand jury in Winston-Salem indicted John Edwards on six federal charges after a two-year investigation on accusations he misused campaign money to cover up his affair.

He has pleaded not guilty. The trial to determine his guilt or innocence could take six weeks. If he's convicted on all counts, Edwards could serve up to 30 years in prison and face more than a million dollars in fines.

Related: CBS: John Edwards Incredible Gamble

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