An investigation into whether John Edwards illegally funneled funds from his presidential campaign to cover up an affair with a staffer who bore his love child intensified this week, as federal investigators subpoenaed a host of new witnesses to appear before a grand jury, sources close to the investigation say.
The grand jury in Raleigh, North Carolina has been investigating Edwards, accused of providing a love nest for mistress Rielle Hunter for over a year.
At the conclusion of an initial investigation into whether Edwards used contributions to hide away Hunter and staffer Andrew Young, Justice Department officials in Washington instructed local investigators to keep digging, interviewing more people to find out exactly who donated money, sources told ABC News affiliate WTVD-TV.
The new subpoenas were directed at witnesses with knowledge of the money, sources said.
The panel meets on the first Wednesday and Thursday of each month, but its schedule is sealed. Neither investigators nor Edwards' attorney knew if the jury would hear testimony in the case this week.
"The investigation is ongoing," James P Cooney III told ABCNews.com. The government, he said, does not have to disclose its grand jury witness lists or schedules as it would in a criminal trial.
If the panel chooses to indict Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and Democratic presidential candidate would be charged with a crime and could be brought to trial.
Edwards' affair with staffer Hunter first came to light in October 2007, at the height of the presidential primary, when the National Enquirer accused him of cheating on his wife Elizabeth, recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
In August 2008, Edwards admitted to ABC News that he carried on an affair with Hunter. Soon after that he admitted he was her baby's father.
Edwards has been keeping a low profile ever since. Young, a once-loyal aide who lied about fathering Edwards' daughter himself, later came forward to accuse the presidential hopeful of misappropriating funds, ultimately launching the federal probe.