Ex-WH Counsel out, Lowell in, on Edwards defense

AP News
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Posted: Aug 19, 2011 8:17 PM
Ex-WH Counsel out, Lowell in, on Edwards defense

The defense team of John Edwards is losing the services of a high-powered Washington D.C. law firm but appears poised to get help from well-known Washington defense attorney Abbe Lowell.

In court papers filed Friday, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig and two other lawyers from the Skadden, Arps law firm said they represented Edwards solely for his June arraignment on campaign finance charges.

"Skadden no longer represents the defendant," says the identical language in all three filings, which are otherwise absent of details about the firm's departure from the Edwards defense team.

Craig's departure was first reported Friday by National Public Radio.

Craig did not respond Friday to attempts by The Associated Press to reach him for comment. In March, he told the AP he was signing on to help Edwards because he believed Edwards, a former U.S. senator who ran for president in 2008 and 2004 and was the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, didn't break any campaign finance laws.

Edwards was indicated last month on federal charges that he accepted campaign donations in excess of the legal limit to hide an affair he was having with Rielle Hunter, a videographer documenting his 2008 bid for the White House. He's also charged with helping to falsify campaign finance reports to cover up the payments.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in October.

In separate court papers filed Friday, Edwards' Charlotte-based attorney, James Cooney, asked the court to allow Lowell to join the defense team.

Lowell, who works for the Chadbourne & Parke firm, is known for defending politicians in difficult circumstances. His clients have included former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. Lowell also represented former U.S. Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., during the investigation into the death of the congressman's intern, Chandra Levy.

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Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler in Washington contributed to this report.