Witness Says Lied for Former Senator Edwards to Save Campaign
The wife of the campaign aide who claimed paternity for former presidential candidate John Edwards’ baby cried on the witness stand on Monday as she recalled why she let her husband say he was the father of someone else’s child.
Cheri Young said Edwards, a former U.S. senator who was seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, explained that the arrangement was necessary both to keep his campaign alive and to prevent his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, from finding out about the affair.
After the candidate convinced his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and the aide, Andrew Young, to go along with the cover-up, Cheri Young said she felt she had no choice but to follow suit.
“I didn’t want the responsibility of knowing that because I didn’t go along with this, that because I didn’t want to try it, that the campaign would explode and it would be my fault and I would have to live with it,” Cheri Young testified.
Her testimony opened the second week of Edwards’ federal campaign finance trial in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Prosecutors accuse Edwards, 58, of conspiring with Andrew Young to solicit more than $900,000 in illegal campaign contributions from two wealthy donors as part of a plan to conceal the candidate’s pregnant mistress from the media and voters.
Edwards, a former trial attorney who became a two-time presidential candidate and the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2004, faces possible prison time if convicted of federal election law violations, including charges of conspiracy, accepting illegal campaign contributions and making false statements.
Andrew Young, the government’s lead witness, testified against his former boss for much of last week. On Monday, Young’s wife reiterated details from his testimony, acknowledging that she used her maiden name to endorse checks totaling $725,000 from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and deposited them in the Youngs’ personal bank accounts.