- - Thursday, December 22, 2011

CAMPAIGN

Edwards says he’s ill, asks for trial delay

RALEIGH, N.C. — Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards says he has been diagnosed with a medical condition that would make it difficult for him to attend his approaching criminal trial over misuse of campaign finances and is asking for it to be delayed.

In a motion filed Thursday, Mr. Edwards’ lawyers asked a federal judge to delay the start of the Jan. 30 trial for at least two months. They did not disclose his illness and filed sealed records with the court.

“The Defendant has a medical issue … that will prevent a trial of this matter during the January 2012 Criminal Term,” the motion says.

Federal prosecutors did not take a position on the medical issue, but they did file a separate motion opposing another Edwards request for more time to prepare. The trial date was already delayed once after Mr. Edwards said he needed more time to prepare his defense and attend his daughter’s wedding.

Mr. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six felony and misdemeanor counts related to nearly $1 million from wealthy donors used to help hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 run for the While House.

The former Democratic vice presidential nominee appeared healthy last week at a pretrial hearing in the case.

CAMPAIGN

Occupy Iowa City shouts down Bachmann

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Hamburg Inn in Iowa City has long been a popular stop for presidential candidates, but it probably won’t be high on Rep. Michele Bachmann’s list anymore.

About two dozen Occupy Iowa City members packed the diner before Mrs. Bachmann arrived Thursday, then loudly chanted in unison as she tried to mingle with supporters. Their chant blasted the Minnesota lawmaker’s position on gay rights, health care and taxes and ended with: “You’re not wanted here. So go, just go.”

The restaurant’s manager said the campaign blared Christmas songs over a sound system to drown out the protesters. Police arrived as tensions rose, but no one was arrested.

Mrs. Bachmann seemed undeterred. Before leaving, she thanked the owner, praised the food and said it was great to be in Iowa City.

JUSTICE

Judge holds Iran, terrorists liable for Sept. 11 attacks

NEW YORK — A federal judge has signed a default judgment finding Iran, Taliban and al Qaeda liable in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Judge George Daniels in Manhattan signed the judgment Thursday, a week after hearing testimony in the 10-year-old case. The signed ruling, which he promised last week, came in a $100 billion lawsuit brought by family members of victims of the attacks.

He directed a magistrate judge to preside over remaining issues, including fixing compensatory and punitive damages.

Judge Daniels signed findings of fact saying the plaintiffs had established that the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 were caused by the support to al Qaeda provided by the defendants. It also said Iran continues to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda by providing a safe haven for the Islamist terror group’s leadership and rank-and-file members. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Romney welcomes Bush 41’s unofficial endorsement

BERLIN — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he appreciates getting a boost from a personal hero, former President George H.W. Bush.

When asked which Republican presidential candidate he supports, Mr. Bush told his hometown newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, that Mr. Romney is the best choice. That casts aside Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who led the GOP field in early fall.

Mr. Bush said he likes Mr. Perry but he seems to have lost momentum.

While campaigning in New Hampshire, Mr. Romney thanked Mr. Bush and said the former president’s backing meant a lot to him personally. He said the 41st president is a hero to him.

In an item posted on the paper’s website Thursday, Mr. Bush said he supports Mr. Romney because of his “stability, experience and principles.”

Mr. Romney visited Mr. Bush in Houston earlier this month.

MASSACHUSETTS

Arsonist gets 14 years in Obama-inspired fire

SPRINGFIELD — A white Massachusetts man convicted of burning down a predominantly black church because he was angry about President Obama’s election has been sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison.

Michael Jacques was convicted in April of various charges in connection with the fire, including conspiracy against civil rights. He was sentenced Thursday to 166 months in prison.

A federal judge also ordered Jacques to pay nearly $1.6 million in restitution to the church and its insurance company.

Prosecutors say Jacques and two friends burned down the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield the night of Mr. Obama’s 2008 election in an act of racism. Jacques has said he was at his parents’ house that night.

The two other men have pleaded guilty in connection with the fire.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Colbert offering $500K to pay for GOP primary

COLUMBIA — Comedian Stephen Colbert says he will pay half a million dollars to help fund South Carolina’s first-in-the-South GOP presidential primary.

The Palmetto State native wrote in a Thursday op-ed column in the State newspaper in Columbia that his superPAC will bridge the gap after state Republicans refused to contribute anything above candidates’ filing fees.

Earlier this month, Mr. Colbert offered Republicans $400,000 if they would name the contest after him. The party said no, and Mr. Colbert said he started working with state Democrats to get an advisory referendum on the ballot.

The primary is expected to cost $1.5 million.

An Election Commission spokesman said the agency would need to ask the state’s attorney general if it can legally accept the money.

Mr. Colbert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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