Continued from page 1

Prosecutors described how Edwards became increasingly desperate to hide the affair after Hunter was photographed by the National Enquirer in December 2007, saying it was Edwards‘ idea to have Young say he fathered Hunter’s baby.

Baron provided Young and Hunter with more than $400,000 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“This wasn’t a guy quietly helping a friend. It was a full rescue operation … for a teetering campaign,” Higdon said, describing Baron’s involvement.

In January 2008, while Andrew Young, his wife, Cheri, and Hunter were hiding in California, there were 63 calls between them and Edwards, Higdon said. Sometimes there were four calls a day, with conversations routinely lasting more than 90 minutes.

Lowell reminded the jury that it was the Youngs who received the $725,000 in secret checks from Mellon, using most of it to help pay for a $1.6 million dream home, not to care for Hunter. Baron wired another $325,000 directly to the couple’s builder, on top of another $21,000 in cash provided by the Texas lawyer.

Lowell suggested Young would tell any lie he needed to in court to help the government’s case, saying the aide could capitalize further on a 2010 tell-all book deal.

“He needs a conviction for his next chapter in his next book,” Lowell said.

Lowell emphasized that none of the donors’ money was ever deposited into a campaign account, used for expenses such as political ads or staff salaries, and that no money went to the candidate. Nowhere in any federal regulation does it say that payments from one third party to another third party for personal expenses is a campaign contribution, Lowell said.

“If it is not a contribution for someone to pay the transportation or living expenses of campaign staffers, then how in the world can that be true for a mistress?” Lowell asked the jurors.

Higdon opened his argument by recounting Edwards‘ announcement on Dec. 30, 2006, to run for president at an event in his hometown of Chapel Hill. The day was also the first time Edwards‘ wife Elizabeth came face to face with his mistress, whom the candidate hired as a videographer through his political action committee.

“He wanted to be our leader. He asked for our vote. He had a popular wife and beautiful family, and on that day, the seeds of his destruction were sown.”

The prosecutor also used rhetoric from one of Edwards‘ most famous stump speeches, recounting the “two Americas” and the need for the rich and the poor to have an equal say in elections.

. “Campaign finance laws are designed to bring the two Americas together at election time,” Higdon said. “John Edwards forgot his own rhetoric.”