In brief: Edwards emails to be used in trial
WASHINGTON – Prosecutors have obtained emails between John Edwards and a former aide to use as evidence at trial that he knew about payments to his pregnant mistress even while he was publicly denying it, people familiar with the case told the Associated Press on Monday.
Dozens of emails were exchanged between Edwards and his former speechwriter Wendy Button as they worked on a never-released draft statement to acknowledge paternity of his out-of-wedlock child, according to people who have seen the messages and requested anonymity because they have not been made public yet.
The messages, draft statements and notes of their related phone conversations are key evidence prosecutors are using against Edwards, indicted on charges he failed to report nearly $1 million allegedly spent to keep his mistress out of the public eye as he pursued the White House. The former senator was still denying he was the baby’s father and publicly maintained he knew nothing about any money that may have been spent when the emails were sent in summer 2009.
Prosecutors must prove the 2004 vice presidential nominee had knowledge of the payments to convict him in the campaign finance case. Edwards proclaimed his innocence of any crime after being indicted Friday.
Ex-IMF chief pleads not guilty
NEW YORK – Dominique Strauss-Kahn formally asserted his innocence Monday to charges he tried to rape a hotel maid, but the drama unfolded outside the Manhattan courtroom as protesters jeered the former International Monetary Fund leader and lawyers for the housekeeper said she was eager to testify despite a “smear campaign” against her.
Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys offered a rival account of the May 14 encounter at his $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite, hinting again that the French diplomat might argue the encounter was consensual.
By the end of the case, “it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever,” defense lawyer Ben Brafman said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not credible.”
Volcano spewing ash, toxic gases
SANTIAGO, Chile – An erupting Chilean volcano sent a towering plume of ash across South America on Monday, forcing thousands from their homes, grounding airline flights in southern Argentina and coating ski resorts with a gritty layer of dust instead of snow.
Booming explosions echoed across the Andes as toxic gases belched up from a three-mile-long fissure in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex – a ridge between two craters just west of the Chilean-Argentine border that began erupting Saturday.
Winds blew a six-mile-high cloud of ash all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and even into southern Buenos Aires province, hundreds of miles to the northeast.
Santorum kicks off presidential bid
SOMERSET, Pa. – Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum formally kicked off his campaign for president Monday, offering himself as a tested leader with the “courage to fight for freedom … to fight for America” against the power of an expanding social-welfare state.
“President (Barack) Obama took that faith that America gave him, and wrecked our economy and centralized power in Washington, D.C., and robbed people of their freedom,” a smiling but combative Santorum told several hundred supporters jammed on the plaza of the Somerset County Courthouse.
A former two-term Republican senator who lost his seat in 2006 to Democrat Bob Casey by 18 percentage points, Santorum has been most known in his career as a leader of social-issues conservatives, but the case he built against Obama Monday was mostly economic and spiritual, in the sense that Santorum argued an increased reliance of citizens on government threatens the national character.
“I believe now that Americans are not looking for someone that they can believe in – they’re looking for a president who believes in them,” Santorum said.
Obama’s economic adviser resigning
WASHINGTON – Austan Goolsbee, a longtime adviser to President Barack Obama, will resign his post as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers this summer to return to teaching at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, the White House announced Monday.
Obama called him “one of America’s great economic thinkers.”
Goolsbee took over last September as council chairman, replacing Christina Romer, who left to return to a teaching position at the University of California, Berkley.