Hiding John Edward’s Mistress Was a Job
(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards' former aide testified today that even after Edwards lost the presidential nomination, he was told that hiding Edwards' mistress was still "the most important job on the campaign" because Edwards was angling to be vice president.
Andrew Young told the court that living with Edwards' demanding girlfriend Rielle Hunter was unpleasant and that he began to suspect that Edwards was not going to keep promises made to Young.
The tension became so great that during a meeting, Edwards and Young came close to throwing punches, Young said on Wednesday.
Young and his wife, Cheri, had been assigned by Edwards to keep Hunter hidden from the press, a job that put them on the road for months and became increasingly difficult after Edwards dropped out of the Democratic presidential race in 2008.
Young said that during a meeting in Texas with Fred Baron, Edwards' national campaign finance chairman, in the spring of 2008, they discussed the Youngs' long-term plans because the couple no longer wanted to live with Hunter.
He testified that even though Edwards was out of the Democratic presidential race, Edwards and Baron were still focused on a job possibly as vice president or attorney general.
"He told me I needed to stay focused on the job at hand," Young testified during his third day on the witness stand. "He told me to take a deep breath. Do the best I can. ... Mr. Baron wanted us to try and hold on until the Democratic National Convention."
Young said that Baron told him, "Cheri and I have the most important job on the campaign."
Edwards is accused of conspiring with others to use hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions during the 2008 presidential race to cover up his affair. His defense team has maintained that while the two-time presidential candidate's actions were deplorable, they were not illegal.
Young was accused of funneling money to Hunter and falsely claiming that her child was his. Young, who is married with three children, took an immunity deal with the prosecution.
In late December 2007, Young testified, he and a pregnant Hunter left North Carolina and went into hiding. Baron funded the trip that included stops in Florida and Baron's home in Colorado.
During that meeting with Baron in Texas, Young was told to summarize the expenses on Hunter.
A rundown of those expenses totaling more than $200,000 was shown in court today. The expenses included more than $28,000 for Hunter's BMW, $2,400 for housekeeping as well as $40,000 in cash as Hunter's allowance.
Young said that Baron told him that he and his family could never return to North Carolina because Edwards was going to be a very prominent person.
"Mr. Edwards, according to the media and what Fred Baron was saying, was going to be the vice presidential nominee and we needed to keep the cover-up going," Young testified.
He said that Baron told him to sell his home, which was still under construction, and "create a new life."
Young said he became increasingly upset because after Edwards dropped out in 2008 and Hunter's baby was born, Edwards cut off contact with Young.
Young said that in June, he and Edwards had an angry meeting in Washington D.C. Young said that he told Edwards he was unhappy and explained his concerns.
"We had a very angry exchange," he told the court today. He said the two started yelling at each other and nearly came to blows. Before the two parted, Young testified, Edwards told Young that he loved him and would never abandon him.
On Tuesday, Young testified that he and his wife were "scared to death" as they accepted checks as large as $150,000 marked as payment for furniture when the money was really meant to help hide Edwards' affair with Hunter.
The money came from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a wealthy philanthropist who made the personal checks out to her friend and interior decorator. The friend, Bryan Huffman, would co-sign checks with Cheri Young in her maiden name, he said. Young said his wife would then deposit the checks into their own account.
Young said that Edwards insisted that it was not illegal and that no one was going to get in trouble.
In June 2008, Young said today, his requests to Mellon for money escalated with a plea for help in setting up a poverty foundation with up to $40 million. He said that she got very upset, accusing him and Edwards of using her for her money.
Young said that when he told Edwards of Mellon's reaction, Edwards laughed.
"He said, 'The good news is it's doable,'" Young said. "He said, 'I will calm Mrs. Mellon.'"
The former aide also testified today that Baron, who was being treated for cancer at the Mayo Clinic, had gotten very angry after Young told him that the National Enquirer had caught Edwards visiting Hunter at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in July 2008.
"He started cussing Mr. Edwards out," Young said. "[He said:] 'What the f--k was he thinking? He's ruined everything we've worked for.'"
In August, Edwards admitted in an ABC News interview that he'd had an extramarital affair, but said that he was not the father of Hunter's baby. Young said today that he didn't think the interview was a good idea at the time but that he'd told Edwards, "Tell the whole truth or don't do anything at all."
Young said after the interview -- during which Edwards also said he didn't know whether Young was the father -- he was extremely angry. "I didn't understand why Mr. Edwards didn't clear my name," Young said.
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