Day two of the John Edwards trial featured testimony from a key witness in the prosecution's conspiracy case: Andrew Young, Edwards' former aide who helped the then presidential candidate cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer.
Young told the court he was instructed by Edwards to approach Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon, "and ask for a noncampaign expense, something that would benefit him."
Young said he used the money from Mellon to rent Hunter a house for $2,700 a month and bought her a BMW at Edwards' direction.
"This was going to be a long-term problem," Young said in court, according to the New York Times. "And Miss Hunter had good taste."
He detailed how Mellon's donations were funneled to Edwards.
Via ABC News:
Mellon made the personal checks out to her interior decorator, who would co-sign checks with Young's wife in the wife's maiden name, he said. Young said his wife would then deposit the checks into their own account.
"She thought it was crazy and was scared to death," Young said today about his wife's initial reaction. Eventually she relented, he said, as Edwards insisted that it was not illegal and that no one was going to get in trouble.
The first two checks from Mellon were $10,000 and $25,000 in the summer of 2007, he said.
Young also testified about Edwards' reaction to the news that Hunter was pregnant.
"He said she was a crazy slut and there was a one-in-three chance it was his child," Young said, according to Politico. Young was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.
Edwards faces six criminal counts—including conspiracy, four counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions and one count of making false statements—for allegedly soliciting and secretly spending over $925,000 to cover up his affair with Hunter. If convicted on all six counts, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.
Edwards' defense team maintains that the funds their client used to hide his mistress were personal gifts from a pair of wealthy friends—the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and Mellon, who is 101 and "physically unable" to attend the trial.
Young's testimony, and his 2010 tell-all book "The Politician," which chronicled the affair, is a key part of the prosecution's case, as is the testimony from Wendy Button, Edwards' former speechwriter.
The defense is expected to call two former Federal Election Commission chairmen, Robert Lenhard and Scott E. Thomas, to testify that the gifts were not a violation of campaign finance laws. It's unclear, however, if the judge in the case will allow their testimony.
Hunter is on the witness list for both the defense and prosecution, though it is unclear whether she will testify.
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- Politics & Government
- Crime & Justice
- John Edwards
- Rielle Hunter
- Andrew Young
- Paul Mellon