John Edwards’ Defense Says Key Witness Double Dipped on Expenses
(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards' defense team battered the credibility of a key prosecution witness on Thursday, getting Andrew Young to admit that he double dipped on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of expenses while hiding Edwards' pregnant mistress.
Defense lawyer Abbe Lowell also raised doubts about a series of statements that Young has made, and bolstered the defense's argument that Young used Edwards' sex scandal to enrich himself.
In a barrage of questions, Lowell suggested that Young volunteered to claim paternity for Edwards' pregnant mistress to make Edwards more indebted to him, and raised the possibility that it was Young who alerted the National Enquirer to the scandal, a suggestion Young denied.
Young is a crucial witness for the prosecution which accuses Edwards of using illegal donations from two supporters to hide the pregnancy of mistress Rielle Hunter during the 2008 presidential campaign. Edwards, who twice ran for the presidency, could be sentenced to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
Young has testified that he was assigned to keep Hunter hidden even after Edwards dropped out of the presidential race because Edwards was angling for a top spot, possibly vice president or attorney general.
Thursday was the second day of Lowell's grinding cross examination and he wrested a damaging admission from Young who conceded that he sought reimbursement from one of Edwards' wealthy backers -- Fred Baron -- for expenses already paid by another wealthy backer -- Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.
In March 2008, Young has testified, he provided Baron with a spread sheet of expenses he had incurred for the cover-up, totalling more than $200,000. What Young didn't tell Baron is that he had already paid the expenses with Mellon's money which totalled $725,000.
Young has testified that the reason he didn't tell Baron about Mellon's money is that Edwards had instructed him to keep each donor in the dark about the other.
Baron gave Young $335,000 to cover Hunter's expenses, records show.
Young was building a house at the time and he conceded during testimony that "a substantial amount," of Mellon's money went into finishing a house he was building, and the plans expanded to include a swimming pool, to wire the house for audio and digital, and put a guest room in the attic.
Lowell also focused on Young's contention that Edwards lobbied him to handle the pregnancy scandal by claiming paternity. The request was made, Young has claimed, in a phone call from Edwards on Dec. 13 while Young was shopping for an aquarium in a Petsmart store.
The deciding factor in agreeing to the charade, Young has said, was seeing a Newsweek magazine that had Edwards on the cover with the headline "The Sleeper," suggesting he could still win the presidency.
But Lowell produced evidence that the magazine cover was actually dated Dec. 24, and asked Young whether the Petsmart version was a made-up story.
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