Sex and folly revelations sully witness
- Last Updated: 2:24 AM, April 24, 2012
- Posted: 1:44 AM, April 24, 2012
GREENSBORO, NC — John Edwards’ key accuser had an affair with one of Edwards’ presidential campaign staffers — and improperly contacted her and two other witnesses just before the trial, it emerged yesterday.
The bombshell disclosure could severely discredit testimony from star witness Andrew Young — an aide so close to Edwards that he once publicly claimed to be the father of Edwards’ love child to protect him.
Before Young took the stand as the first witness in Edwards’ criminal trial yesterday, federal Judge Catherine Eagles said Young called three witnesses Sunday night.
“He contacted them to find out what they were going to say,” Eagles said.
She said Edwards’ lawyers could mention that in their opening arguments yesterday. But she said they couldn’t use the dynamite term “witness tampering” or tell the jury that Young had a one-night stand with one of the witnesses in 2007.
Young is crucial to the case because before the campaign got going, he met Rielle Hunter, who eventually became Edwards’ mistress and the mother of his baby. Young also introduced Edwards to Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, an heiress who provided much of the nearly $1 million that the feds say was used to hide the affair.
Under prosecution questioning yesterday, Young made clear that Mellon was eager to give Edwards money for his presidential run. “She felt like he would be the savior of America,” Young said, and she “apologized for not being able to give more.”
Earlier Edwards sat silently in court as the prosecution described him as an unscrupulous candidate who would do anything to get to the White House, including hiding his affair.
“It is often said that ambition is an important quality in a politician — especially a candidate who is running for president,” lead prosecutor David Harbach said. “But it can become so consuming that people will not let anything get in the way — not other people, not family, not the law.”
He described Hunter as “a loose cannon who was unemployed with no one to support her.”
Prosecutors said Elizabeth Edwards met Hunter on the very night Edwards declared his candidacy, made eye contact with her, figured out what was happening and had her fired as a campaign videographer.
Harbach said Edwards sent Young, his loyal aide, to find donors, telling him, “Don’t tell them what the money is really for.”
He said Edwards convinced Young to claim Hunter’s baby was really his. “This is bigger than all of us,” he quoted Edwards as telling him.
Harbach conceded that Young is flawed: “His hands aren’t exactly clean either . . . I’m telling you folks that you will not like him.”