Edwards' lawyers set to begin presenting defense

Edwards' lawyers set to begin presenting defense

(AP) Edwards’ lawyers set to begin presenting defense
Lawyers for John Edwards will begin presenting his defense at the former presidential contender’s campaign-finance trial.

The first witnesses to be called by the defense include former Federal Election Commission chairman Scott Thomas, political pollster Harrison Hickman and ex-Edwards attorney Wade Smith. Edwards’ attorneys have not indicated whether he will take the stand.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts arising from alleged federal campaign-finance violations. He’s accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

On Friday, the trial judge rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case. If convicted, the former North Carolina senator faces up to 30 years in prison.