John Edwards trial takes surprising turn
After arriving at court with him yesterday for the first day of his trial, Cate is said to have been whispering legal advice in his ear throughout jury selection and opening statements - in which the prosecution called him a 'master manipulator'.According to the New York Post, the 30-year-old sat directly behind her father yesterday in the federal courtroom in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Edwards and his attorneys consulted with her at least six times in the 45 minutes it took to whittle down 45 jurors to the final 16, almost making her the fourth member of his legal team.
Cate was also active during Edwards campaign for presidency in 2008. She temporarily gave up practicing law after her mother Elizabeth died from breast cancer in December 2010.
She now runs the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, which provides educational opportunities to underprivileged children.
Prosecutors are trying to prove that the ex-Senator knew that $1m in donations to his 2008 campaign was intended to prevent his family finding out about his mistress Rielle Hunter.
He faces six charges including conspiring to solicit funds and taking illegal campaign contributions - each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. But his defence argues that the donations handled by his staffer Andrew Young were gifts from friends who wanted to hide the affair. They claim most of most of the money was siphoned of by Mr Young's to renovate his home.
Mr Young has struck a plea deal with prosecutors and is due to take the stand against his former boss. But the defense today tried to undermine him by revealing that he had a one night stand with another witness in 2007.U.S District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles said that former Edwards aide Andrew Young slept with a young campaign employee and also contacted three other witnesses in the past two weeks to consult with them about their planned testimony.
The judge ruled that lawyers for Edwards could mention the improper contact to jurors in opening arguments Monday, but barred them from using the term 'witness tampering' or telling the jury that Young had a one-night stand with one of the other witnesses in 2007.
The former aide is potentially the government's most important witness as prosecutors seek to prove the then-married Democratic candidate masterminded a scheme to use nearly $1 million provided by two wealthy campaign donors to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008.Young once falsely claimed paternity of the child Edwards fathered with his then-mistress Rielle Hunter in 2007.
Edwards, 58, has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to alleged violations of federal campaign finance laws.The former candidate sat silently in the courtroom Monday morning as the lead federal prosecutor called him a man who would say or do anything to get elected president, including violating the law to hide his affair and keep his campaign viable.
'It wasn't just a marriage on the line,' said prosecutor David Harbach.
'If the affair went public it would destroy his chance of becoming president, and he knew it. ...He made a choice to break the law.'
The judge seated 12 jurors and four alternates Monday morning.
The panel is made up of nine men and seven women drawn from central North Carolina, the state that elected Edwards to serve one term in the U.S. Senate.A defense lawyer for Edwards told the jury that most of the money at issue in the case went not to support Hunter, but was siphoned off by Young and his wife to build a $1.5 million 'dream home' near Chapel Hill.
Former candidate Edwards' lawyers contend the payments were gifts from friends intent on keeping the candidate's wife from finding out about the affair.
A key issue will be whether Edwards knew about the payments made on his behalf by his national campaign finance chairman, the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and campaign donor Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a now-101-year-old heiress and socialite.Each had already given Edwards' campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.
Edwards denies having known about the money, which paid for private jets, luxury hotels and Hunter's medical care. Prosecutors will seek to prove he sought and directed the payments to cover up his affair, protect his public image as a 'family man' and keep his presidential hopes viable.
It is alleged as part of this, Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later embarked with her on a cross-country odyssey as they sought to elude tabloid reporters trying to expose the candidate's extramarital affair.Former aide Young later fell out with Edwards and wrote an unflattering tell-all book, 'The Politician.'And just recently, Young and Hunter ended a two-year legal battle over ownership of a sex tape the mistress recorded with Edwards during the campaign, agreeing to a settlement that dictates that copies of the video will be destroyed.
While Young is expected to be a witness for the prosecution, the defense is likely to call Hunter to testify. After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in 2010. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte and is visited frequently by Edwards. And despite rumours Edwards and Hunter were looking to get married, a recent sighting reported to the New York Post claims the one-time secret romance is no more.
The old flames were seen eating together at Rooster's Wood Fire Kitchen in Charlotte where they often take their daughter Frances Quinn, four, and apparently looked far from a couple in love.A staff member at the restaurant said: 'They didn't seem romantic. You would think that they were a married couple if you didn’t know them. He sat across from her in a booth.'Hunter's publicist Rosemarie Terenzio confirmed the couple see each other often but not romantically.She told the Post: 'No, she wasn’t ever engaged to him. They see each other often. They raise Quinn together and they do so extremely amicably.'