Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Speechwriter says Edwards knew about payments to mistress

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A former speechwriter for John Edwards testified Tuesday that the onetime presidential candidate acknowledged knowing that a wealthy donor was secretly supporting his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008.

Wendy Button testified at Edwards' corruption trial that she helped him in the summer of 2009 to draft a public statement admitting he had repeatedly lied about fathering a baby girl with his mistress, Rielle Hunter. The testimony came after a donor and policy adviser testified that he warned Barack Obama's presidential campaign about Edwards' infidelity during the summer of 2008.

Button said Edwards told her he knew that his campaign finance chairman, Fred Baron, had been financially supporting Hunter and the baby.

"He said he knew that Fred had been taking care of things all along, but that he didn't know the details," Button said.

That admission was absent from the statement Edwards eventually released in January 2010 saying that he was the father of the baby, Frances Quinn Hunter.

Edwards has denied knowing about nearly $1 million in secret payments provided by Baron and another wealthy donor, the 101-year-old heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon. He has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations.

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