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Feds drop 5 remaining counts against John Edwards

Former presidential candidate John Edwards has been cleared of all remaining finance corruption charges. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Former presidential candidate John Edwards’ legal troubles are over. Judge Catherine Eagles on Wednesday signed an order dismissing all five counts on which a jury had been unable to reach a verdict. The government had asked that the charges be dismissed, eliminating the threat that Edwards could face another trial.

A jury on May 31 acquitted Edwards on one felony count of receiving illegal campaign contributions, but deadlocked on the remaining five counts he misused money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, while he ran for president.

Jurors acquitted Edwards on a charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions, involving $375,000 from elderly heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008. He had also been charged with illegally accepting $350,000 from Mellon in 2007, other donations from wealthy Texas attorney Fred Baron, filing a false campaign finance report and conspiracy.

See previous coverage of John Edwards’ trial

Chuck Burton / AP

John Edwards

“The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said in a prepared statement. “ In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts."

In a statement, Edwards' lawyers said: 

"As we stated in our motions and arguments in court, the novel theory of campaign law violations charged by the Justice Department is not a crime. It should be addressed, if at all, by the Federal Election Commission, which our evidence showed seems to have agreed with our views on the law.  While John has repeatedly admitted to his sins, he has also consistently asserted, as we demonstrated at the trial, that he did not violate any campaign law nor even imagined that any campaign laws could apply.  We are confident that the outcome of any new trial would have been the same."

Hunter earlier this month announced she's coming out with a tell-all book. People Magazine reported the book, titled "What Really Happened," will hit stores June 26. In it, Hunter says the two are still in love.

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