The third week of the John Edwards conspiracy trial opened Monday with the librarian for wealthy heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon—who gave $725,000 to Edwards during his 2008 presidential campaign—testifying that the former candidate sent a letter to Mellon asking for another $3 million just weeks before his indictment.
Tony Willis, the librarian, said Mellon asked him to respond to the May 2011 letter. "I understood her to say he asked for $3 million," Willis said. Mellon denied the request.
Federal prosecutors say the letter is more evidence of the lengths Edwards was willing to go to keep his affair with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer, secret. The defense says that the money from Mellon was a personal contribution, and not intended for political use.
And Mellon's lawyer, Alex Forger, told the court that he believed Mellon's donations were personal.
"In later years she had few close friends," Forger said. "Her husband had died, and her daughter was ill. She took a liking to John Edwards as she had done with others. She liked him as an individual, as a person, not because he was a candidate."
Forger added: "It wasn't because he was running for elective office. She was less concerned about who would be elected president."
According to Politico, lead prosecutor David Harbach "looked exasperated" during the defense's cross-examination of Folger.
"It was a good morning for the home team," Edwards whispered to his 30-year-old daughter Cate, seated behind him in the courtroom, following Forger's testimony, according to ABC News.
Hunter, Edwards' former mistress and mother of his now 4-year-old child, has yet to appear at the trial. She lives in Charlotte with Frances Quinn, her daughter with Edwards. It's not clear whether she will testify.
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.
Prosecutors are expected to finish presenting their case on Thursday.
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