Thursday, April 26, 2012

If You Though John Edwards Was A Sleazeball Already

So brazen was the affair, the jury heard, that when Edwards travelled to the spot outside his hometown of Chapel Hill where he announced his second bid for the presidency, he arrived in a car driven by Young with Hunter at his side. They had shared wine in the back of the car on the way to the site, and upon arrival the candidate turned to his top aide and allegedly whispered, "Andrew, whatever you do, don't let Rielle get close to Elizabeth." Unfortunately, Young told the court, the two women did cross paths at the ladies' room, and that was the moment Elizabeth Edwards' "smile turned into a glare" and Rielle feared the relationship with John was over. 

"She was upset," Young remembered. "And she said if Mr. Edwards didn't call her she would go public." 

It was the beginning of a very long odyssey that, according to Young, turned him into a virtual slave to his employer's love affair. Young says he stuck it out for as long as he did out of loyalty and determination to support his wife and three children, two of whom were born with serious heart problems. Young recalled how he took out a lease for a nearby house in his name to keep Hunter's name secret, arranged for Hunter to have a new BMW, doled out an Edwards-supplied allowance to Hunter, and put up with her frequent visits to their home - just a quarter of a mile away. "She treated us as errand people," he testified. "She was very difficult."

Young described how he was ordered to procure a special cell phone so the lovers could secretly communicate. "We called it the Bat Phone," Young said. "He worried that Mrs. Edwards was checking his cell phone records." Edwards' now-deceased wife had cause for concern ever since he returned from his trip to China. As John slept off the jet-lag, said Young, Elizabeth answered his ringing cell phone and immediately heard his mistress cooing about their shared love.

In the courtroom, Edwards' posture faltered at times as he rubbed his eyes and blew air through puffed cheeks. At one point he turned to his lawyer at the defense table and mouthed the words, "This is crazy..."

Young chillingly described to the jury how a National Enquirer reporter and a photographer finally tracked down the visibly pregnant Rielle at a grocery store - and then showed up at Young's home looking for comment. This testimony helped explain the tension and panic within the Edward's camp. "The kids were yelling and screaming that bad men were looking in the window at them," Young said. He confronted two men outside while his wife called the police. No arrests were made and the men were ushered away by the cops. They realized then that it was only a matter of time before the lid blew off the scandal.

Once the prosecutor had established there was a clandestine nature to the affair, he turned to the pregnancy and the alleged scramble to finance hiding Hunter without Elizabeth finding out. This line of questioning most directly challenged Edwards' claim that he knew nothing about how any money was raised, where Rielle was hiding, or any particulars about Andrew Young's actions on his behalf. The idea of a rogue aide out to line his own pockets by trading off the Senator's name seemed remote as the day of testimony evolved. 

In a stunning revelation, the witness alleged the multi-millionaire Edwards first asked him for a loan knowing that the Youngs had recently come into a windfall of some $400,000 on the sale of their home. Asked for his response to Edwards by the prosecutor, Young replied, "I said, 'No, sir.' We needed that money to build our new house." And, Young added, "We always had trouble getting reimbursed from the office. Giving him two or three hundred dollars once in a while was one thing, but ..." His voice trailed off and the point was made. (To hear Young tell it, Edwards rarely dipped into his own pocket - not even the day Young drove the lovers to a clinic to get their shots prior to their alleged trip to Africa.)


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