John Edwards' attorneys question wife of ex-aide
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012
GREENSBORO (AP) — The wife of a former aide to John Edwards rebuffed questions Tuesday about whether she has any incentive to lie to hurt the former presidential candidate.
“Sir, I’m here to tell the truth about my experiences, about my life,” Cheri Young said in response to one of Edwards’ defense lawyers. “It was a lie when we accepted paternity for your client and that is why we are here today.”
Her husband, Andrew Young, was among Edwards’ closest aides in 2007, when the couple became embroiled in a year-long effort to cover up the former U.S. senator’s extramarital affair and the pregnancy that resulted from it.
Both Youngs have testified at Edwards’ campaign finance corruption trial that the candidate asked Andrew to issue a statement falsely claiming paternity of the child Edwards fathered with his mistress, Rielle Hunter. At the time, Edwards was a top-tier presidential candidate and it was just weeks away from the crucial Iowa caucuses.
In his cross examination of Cheri Young, Edwards defense lawyer Alan Duncan suggested the couple made a lot of money of the scandal.
They kept about $1 million secretly provided by two wealthy campaign supporters while the couple helped hide and care for the pregnant mistress. The Youngs also made hundreds of thousands of dollars from Andrew Young’s 2010 tell-all book about the affair and by selling the movie rights to their story.
Cheri Young agreed they had made money, but reiterated that it was Edwards’ lies that prompted them to go public. Edwards had promised to admit the baby was his after Hunter gave birth in February 2008, she said, but instead went on national television to lie about the affair, even after tabloid reporters photographed him with the mistress and his baby that summer.
“I came here because I had to come here,” said Young, who testified because of a subpoena. “The only reason my husband had to write the book is because Mr. Edwards did not come forward and tell the truth.”
After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, days before the release of Andrew Young’s book in 2010. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.
Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six counts related to campaign-finance violations. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.
At issue are payments from a wealthy Texas lawyer, Fred Baron, who served as Edwards’ campaign-finance chairman, and an elderly heiress, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. Andrew Young, who testified last week under an immunity agreement, has acknowledged that he kept about $1 million of $1.2 million in payments from the two campaign supporters.
Earlier on Tuesday, Duncan questioned Young about her chronic migraine headaches, and her husband’s prescription sleep medication and drinking. Duncan was trying to convince the jury the couple had problems with their memory.
Young, a pediatric nurse, conceded her husband sometimes drank too much years ago. She said she didn’t know whether her husband ever took the medication while consuming alcohol or the potential side effects.
“I don’t watch him take his medication, sir,” Young replied.
As the court broke for lunch, Duncan indicated his cross-examination of Young is likely to continue for the rest of the day.