GREENSBORO, N.C. — Cheri Young, whose husband, Andrew, is the leading witness in the federal corruption trial against John Edwards, followed him onto the witness stand Friday, recounting in a steely voice how much her husband had adored the former senator and vice presidential nominee.
After hearing Edwards speak during his run for the U.S. Senate in 1998, his first stab at politics, Andrew Young knew that he wanted to work for him, she said.
"Andrew was mesmerized by John Edwards," she added.
Edwards is accused of directing a conspiracy to use about $1 million in campaign donors' payments to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008.
Andrew Young was the point man for Edwards' deception, going as far as to falsely claim that he was the child's father.
"I was not happy with it," said Cheri Young, 38, a pediatric nurse. "It was maddening to me. Andrew had no responsibilities at home," she said. The couple have three children.
The forceful testimony at the end of the day was a shift from a week that was often bogged down in tedious breakdowns of emails, cellphone calls and the transfer of more than $900,000 from a pair of wealthy Edwards supporters. The money was needed as the Youngs, their three children and Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, went on all-expenses-paid trips to luxury homes in Aspen, Colo., and posh hotels in the West, eventually moving into a home in Santa Barbara, Calif., to wait out the 2008 presidential election cycle.
Questions of Andrew Young's character and honesty are at the center of the defense case, led by Abbe Lowell.
After days of evidence aimed at undermining Andrew Young's sincerity and exposing his motivations, Lowell concluded his cross-examination by asking Andrew Young to read from his book, The Politician, in which he wrote that he was concerned that his involvement in the elaborate scheme to cover up Edwards' affair would cause people to see Andrew Young as "a cold-blooded schemer, motivated by greed and power."
"Isn't that exactly what you are?" Lowell asked.
"No, I am not," he replied.
His voice cracked when he spoke of his wife's devotion to their three children.
The trial, which is expected to last at least five more weeks, continues Monday.