Former presidential candidate John Edwards has a life-threatening heart condition that will require surgery next month, according to a federal judge in North Carolina, who says she has two letters from a cardiologist confirming the malady.
As the Raleigh News & Observer reports, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles has granted Edwards' motion for a two-month delay in his upcoming trial, in which he is accused of illegally using presidential campaign funds to cover up an extramarital affair.
Edwards, who ran for president in 2008 and was the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, has admitted to the affair — and to fathering a child with his mistress, videographer Rielle Hunter — but denies he broke any laws. The affair all but ended his three-decade marriage to Elizabeth Edwards, who died in December 2010 after a long battle with breast cancer.
Edwards' legal team filed the motion before Christmas, citing an undisclosed medical condition. The trial had already been delayed twice — once so Edwards could attend his daughter's wedding, and again to give him more time to prepare a defense — but Eagles tells the Associated Press that she agreed to delay it again in light of the cardiologist's letters.
"The public has an interest in a speedy trial, and this case has already been continued twice," Eagles said. "Ordinarily, I would try to manage something like this. But clearly there are some limitations on Mr. Edwards due to real and serious health issues."
According to the AP, while Eagles didn't specify what kind of heart condition Edwards has, or what surgery he'll undergo, the doctor's notes did say he should avoid driving and travel in general, including trips to the courtroom.
When the trial eventually begins, Edwards will face six felony and misdemeanor counts related to his alleged campaign-finance violations. Prosecutors say Edwards used nearly $1 million in political donations as part of an attempt to hide his affair with Hunter as he ran for president in 2008.
The trial will now begin no sooner than March 26, the AP reports.