Young and his wife, Cheri, jetted around the country with Hunter in private planes provided by Baron, and lived with her in a house rented with Baron’s money. They bought her a BMW with Baron’s money, too — all to keep her quiet — and they arranged for clandestine trips so that Edwards and Hunter could be together. Contrary to defense claims that Edwards did not know the details of the arrangements, he knew everything, Young said, but the former senator was so intent on preserving his political prospects that he couldn’t be bothered to return Young’s calls.
When they would meet, the conversations could be explosive: a screaming match at the River Inn in Georgetown when Edwards was angling to be the vice presidential pick, a spooky car ride down lonely rural roads in a Chevy Tahoe that Edwards borrowed because he said his wife had taken his car keys. Edwards was “sweating and nervous” even though the air conditioner was blasting and “talked about how his life was hell right then, that he would sleep in some part of his house and that Mrs. Edwards would come in and start screaming at him,” Young testified.
The defense is slated to begin its case in the John Edwards trial Monday. Observers are speculating about whether Edwards or his former mistress, Rielle Hunter, will be called to testify.
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Edwards, so adept at charming voters and contributors, tried to placate Young, saying he “missed hanging out” with him. But when Edwards told him that he couldn’t persuade Mellon to fund a new foundation that would employ Young, the conversation turned volatile. Young threatened to expose the affair, and Edwards seethed, “You can’t hurt me.” It was the last time they spoke.
Over months, as the deception was unraveling, Edwards was tinkering with a statement confessing his affair. It was being written by Wendy Button, a speechwriter who had once been brought to tears by Edwards’s commitment to reduce poverty. Her statement was never issued, even though it was circulated among Edwards’s friends and acquaintances, including the actor Sean Penn.
Button is working on a book now, a “literary memoir” based, in part, on her experiences with Edwards, a man who lied to her as much as he lied to everyone else. She said Young, who published his own book, helped put her in contact with the super-agent Ari Emanuel, who is the brother of Chicago mayor and former Obama administration chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and with Aaron Sorkin, the high-powered creator of television’s “The West Wing.”
Her former boss sat just a few feet away as she spoke. In political circles, it’s common to use an honorific, such as senator or congressman, even long after a person has left office. It’s a way of showing respect for the so-called distinguished gentlemen who serve their country in office. Button, though, just called him John.