GREENSBORO, N.C. — A former adviser to John Edwards recounted Wednesday how the former presidential candidate's now-deceased wife indignantly confronted her husband, baring her chest in front of staff members the day after a tabloid reported he was cheating on her.
During a session that saw Edwards' adult daughter flee the courtroom in tears, Christina Reynolds described how a very upset Elizabeth Edwards stormed away from her husband, then collapsed in a ball on the pavement outside a private airplane hangar.
Reynolds and another woman guided the anguished wife into a nearby ladies room to compose herself, but she soon returned to the private hangar to again confront her husband.
In front of several staff members, the woman who had endured grueling treatments for breast cancer took off her shirt and bra, exposing her chest.
" 'You don't see me anymore,' " Reynolds quoted Elizabeth Edwards as screaming. "He didn't have much of a reaction."
As staffers scrambled to cover up Edwards' wife and huddle her into a car, Reynolds heard the Democratic candidate use a cellphone to call his wife's doctor to ask for help. Edwards then boarded a waiting jet and took off for his scheduled appearance in South Carolina, Reynolds said.
Reynolds, 37, testified that Elizabeth Edwards had known about her husband's affair with Rielle Hunter before the National Enquirer made it public in October 2007. Hers was the most stirring testimony of the day at Edwards' trial on corruption charges, as prosecutors worked to build a timeline of the affair and efforts to cover it up.
Shortly before Reynolds began her account of what happened that day at the Raleigh, N.C., airport, Edwards turned to his daughter Cate, 30, who has been seated in the front row for much of her father's trial.
"I don't know what's coming," Edwards was heard saying. "Do you want to leave?"
She responded in a whisper, grabbed her purse and walked out, wiping away tears. Edwards was heard saying, "Cate, Cate" as she left. She returned to court about a half hour later, after a brief recess.
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 wealthy donors used to help keep his pregnant mistress out of public view.