Nightly News | May 31, 2012
>>> and good evening, everyone. i'm matt lauer . in for brian tonight. after a day of krurm confusion and drama, there's a verdict and a mistrial in the john edwards case. a trial about campaign finance corruption that included weeks of sensational testimony about his private life and his very public fall from grace . late this afternoon, following the vict, we heard from edwards himself for the first time right outside the courthouse.
>> i want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice that while i do not believe i did anything illegal or ever thought i was doing anything illegal, i did an awful, awful lot that was wrong. and there is no one else responsible for my sins. i also want to say a word about my own children. cate who most all of you have seen, has been here every single day. she has been here no matter what. no matter how awful and painful the lot of the evidence was for her. evidence about her dad, evidenceunts her mom, who she loved so, so dearly. but she never once flinched. she said, dad, i love you. i'll be there for you no matter what. and i'm so proud to have had her with me. this is the last thing i'm going to say. i don't think god's through with me. i really believe he thinks there's still some good things i can do. and i want to dedicate my life to being the best dad i can be and to helping those kids who i think deserve help and who i hope i can help.
>> that was john edwards just a couple hours ago. nbc's lisa myers has been covering this trial in greensboro, north carolina , since the beginning. she's also at the courthouse tonight. lisa, good evening to you.
>> good evening, matt. it was a day of high drama, tension, and fast chasing emotions. but at the end of the day , john edwards was hugging everyone inside. his mother, bobby, summed it up this way. we prayed for this and got answered our prayers. for edwards and his family, the day was an emotional roller coaster. first, anxiety as the jury announced it had reached a verdict. then surprise when the jury said it had only been able to reach a unanimous verdict on one of six counts. the judge then asked the jury to go back and try harder. after another hour of deliberating, the jury came back again, saying it was unable to agree on any other charges. edwards was found not guilty of receiving illegal campaign contributions from heiress rachel bunny mellon in 2008 . the judge declared a mistrial on the other accounts.
>> it's a clear victory for john edwards . it's a tremendous setback for the federal government . prosecutors got almost every major ruling in their favor. they got a lot of evidence about john edwards , the husband, and not a conviction, not on a single count.
>> the governmentologed almost $1 million to hide edwards pregnant mistress rielle hunter while he ran for president amounted to illegal campaign contributions . the defense argued the money was guven to hide the affair and later a child from edwards ' late wife, elizabeth, and were not campaign contributions . edwards thanks the jury but took responsibility for his behavior.
>> i don't have to go any further than the mirror.
>> edwards thanked his parents, his daughter cate , and his two younger children for standing with him and had special words for the child he once denied was his, his 4-year-old daughter with rielle hunter.
>> finally, my precious quinn. who i love more than any of you could ever imagine.
>> now, there was a great deal of emotion in the courtroom when the virblth was announced. edwards saved the biggest hug for his daughter cate , hugged his parents, his lawyer, everyone else. the gimpt was highly criticized for bringing this case and must decide on whether to retry edwards on the five counts the jury couldn't agree on.
>> lisa, thank you very much.