John Edwards Defense Strategy: But What About John Ensign?

Lawyers for former Democratic presidential candidate and Senator John Edwards have a question for the Justice Department officials prosecuting his case: what ever happened with that whole John Ensign thing?During a hearing in federal court in North Carolina Edwards lawyer Abbe Lowell cited the $96,000 check that Ensign’s parents gave to his mistress as a severance payment, the Associated Press reports. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) dismissed the case against Ensign against the recommendation of its general counsel because they found the payment was just a gift.

Another theme struck by the Edwards legal team: the prosecution was pushed by a Republican U.S. Attorney. Reuters reports:

Lowell also said the case should be dismissed because it was a politically motivated prosecution pushed by then-U.S. Attorney George Holding. Appointed by former President George W. Bush, Holding has since left office and is running for Congress as a Republican.

Prosecutors said Justice Department officials under Democratic President Barack Obama’s watch approved of the case going forward.

Arguments about two other pieces of the five-part motion were discussed in a closed session because they involved grand jury testimony.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued no ruling and asked the lawyers to return Thursday morning to further discuss the motion.

Ensign isn’t necessarily out of the woods himself. Murray Waas reported in May that DOJ would almost certainly reopen a criminal investigation into Ensign.

(H/T Josh Gerstein)