- The judge's ruling clears the way for Edwards' trial to begin in January
- Edwards is charged with six felony and misdemeanor counts
- His attorneys say the case against him is politically motivated
A federal judge in North Carolina rejected motions by former U.S. Sen. John Edwards to have his criminal indictment dismissed, spokeswoman Robin Zier with the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said Thursday.
The decision sets the stage for his trial to begin in January.
Edwards is charged with six felony and misdemeanor counts related to donations to and payments from his failed 2008 presidential campaign. He is accused of conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws. He denies wrongdoing.
Judge Catherine Eagles issued her order at a hearing in Greensboro Thursday morning, which Edwards attended.
His attorneys claimed the investigation and prosecution are politically motivated, and the charges do not clearly establish any election law was violated.
They argued the money was a gift unrelated to campaign expenditures and that legally, donors can help pay for a candidate's personal expenses unrelated to the campaign, CNN Raleigh affiliate WTVD reported.
The attorneys also said money from donors never went directly to Edwards -- it was handled through third parties, WTVD said.
However, the prosecution countered that if it was third-party expenditure, Supreme Court rulings state that the intent behind donations must be "unambiguously clear," WTVD said.
If convicted on all counts, the North Carolina native, who was the Democrats' 2004 vice presidential nominee alongside John Kerry, could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.