Continued from page 1

Prosecutors had phone records showing dozens of calls between Young and Edwards. The candidate often used the phones of campaign staffers to call his trusted aide and mistress to avoid his wife seeing the other woman’s number on his bill. Edwards also obtained an extra cellphone his wife didn’t know about that they and Hunter called the “Bat Phone,” Young said.

In later testimony, Young said in December 2007, Edwards had the idea of Young claiming paternity. It came after reporters from a tabloid tracked Hunter down in the parking lot of a North Carolina grocery store. By that time, non-tabloid media had also started to pick up the trail as the campaign was preparing for the early 2008 primaries.

Edwards said they needed to “give the press something they would understand, an affair between two staffers,” Young testified. Hunter had produced several videos documenting life on the campaign trail for Edwards.

Young said Edwards “talked about how this was bigger than all of us,” and reaffirmed to the aide he wanted to help the country by getting troops out of Iraq and remaking health care. He also said he didn’t want his cancer-stricken wife to have to deal with a scandal before she died.

The Youngs agreed to get the mistress, who was then living in a $2,700-a-month rental home near Chapel Hill, out of North Carolina. They began a cross-country odyssey of travel on private jets and stays in luxury hotels. While they were on the run, the federal indictment alleges that more than $183,000 in bills related to Hunter’s care was paid by Fred Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer who served as Edwards‘ campaign finance director. Baron has since died.

Young testified that Edwards put him in touch with Baron’s people to arrange the details, which included stays at Baron’s palatial vacation home in Aspen. As prosecutors highlighted the group’s movements, photos of the blue-water resorts and mountain mansion were shown on video monitors around the courtroom.

Baron also sent Young overnight packages stuffed with cash. On included a handwritten note from the wealthy lawyer: “A- Old Chinese saying, use cash, not credit cards!”

When asked why he agreed to claim paternity and care for Hunter, Young said power was the lure.

“I wanted my friend to be president,” Young said. “Being friends with the most powerful person on earth, there are benefits to that.”

Edwards has denied knowing about the money provided by Mellon. In opening statements on Monday, his defense lawyer Alison Van Laningham said the Youngs siphoned off the bulk of the money to pay for the construction of their $1.5 million house near Chapel Hill.

The indictment filed by the U.S. Justice Department last year recounts more than $933,000 in unreported payments from the two campaign donors who had already given the maximum contributions allowed by law.

Defense attorneys say even if Edwards knew about the secret payments from Mellon and Baron, they don’t fit the legal definition of political contributions because they were not meant to influence the election. Instead, they say, the payments were gifts meant to hide Edwards‘ affair from his wife, not voters.

If convicted on all six counts, Edwards faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and as much as $1.5 million in fines.

Edwards sat silently in the courtroom Tuesday as prosecutors played several voicemails he and Baron had left on Young’s cellphone in December 2007 and January 2008. At that time, Edwards was in the heat of the presidential primaries and was constantly in the public eye.

Though none of the voicemails played for the jury contained evidence that was in itself damning, it illustrated that Edwards was in frequent contact with Young and Hunter while they were on the run. Young said Edwards expressly told him not to inform him of their exact location, because the candidate “didn’t want to have to lie if he was asked about it.”

Story Continues →