Rielle Hunter, John Edwards' former mistress and mother of his now 4-year-old child, has yet to appear at the candidate's criminal conspiracy trial in Greensboro, N.C., which is nearing the end of its second week. But her presence has nonetheless been felt.
Hunter's name—which is on the witness list for both the prosecution and defense—has been at the center of much of the testimony.
Below are some highlights gleaned from a handful of witnesses, including Edwards' ex-aide Andrew Young and Young's wife, Cheri Young—the couple who say Edwards instructed them in 2008 to use campaign donations to hide Hunter from public view.
• Last week, Young told the court that Edwards instructed him 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. "And Miss Hunter had good taste."
• During a meeting with Edwards' campaign adviser, Young said he was told to itemize more than $200,000 spent on Hunter, including $28,000 for Hunter's BMW, $2,400 for housekeeping and Hunter's allowance: $40,000 in cash.
• Young also testified about Edwards' reaction to the news that Hunter was pregnant. "He said she was a crazy slut and there was a 1 in 3 chance it was his child," Young said.
• Edwards' former aide Christina Reynolds testified on Wednesday that after the National Enquirer broke the story of Edwards' affair with Hunter, Reynolds had a conversation with Hunter about issuing a denial. Hunter, Reynolds said, suggested that the campaign release a statement that she had been "abducted by aliens." (Hunter eventually issued a straight denial.)
• Hunter knocked on the Detroit hotel door of John Davis, Edwards' "body man" during the 2008 presidential campaign, and told him that she and Edwards were "madly in love," Davis testified on Thursday. Hunter, who had been dismissed as a campaign videographer because of Elizabeth Edwards' suspicion of an affair, paid a surprise visit to the hotel where Edwards and Davis were staying. "I told her it was not my business," Davis said of the Feb. 5, 2007, encounter, "and I asked her to leave." According to ABC News, Edwards later took Davis aside and told him Hunter was "crazy" and denied the affair.
• Hunter was "a very nice person, but different sort of person," Davis said. "The sorts of things she talked about, the sorts of things she did. She described herself as 'spiritual.'"
• Matthew Nelson, Edwards' campaign scheduler, said he was instructed to pick Hunter up in June 2006 and bring her to Edwards' house. Via ABC:
Nelson, Hunter and Edwards then flew together to Raleigh-Durham under the pretense that Edwards was interviewing Hunter for a job. While in the house, Edwards feigned ignorance of who Hunter was, asking Nelson in a "whispered tone ... who the woman is in the neighboring room." They later attended a Dave Matthews Band concert and flew to Washington, D.C., together, Nelson testified.
• Josh Brumberger, yet another former campaign aide, testified that he was with Edwards at a New York bar when Hunter first met the candidate. Brumberger said it was not unusual for strange women to approach Edwards on the campaign trail, and he would often have to intervene on the candidate's behalf.
"My normal bag of tricks included, 'Got a big day tomorrow, got to rest,'" Brumberger said.
Brumberger said he recognized Hunter from the bar several weeks later when she began working as a videographer for the campaign. "It was a cause of concern," Brumberger testified.
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.
Hunter lives in Charlotte with Frances Quinn, her daughter with Edwards. It's not clear whether she will testify.
Before meeting Edwards, Hunter lived something of a colorful life—so colorful, she changed her name. In the 1980s, Hunter—then-Lisa Druck—dated novelist Jay McInerney, whose 1988 "Story of My Life" is told from the point of view of a point of view of a Hunter-like character.
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