In a view that reflects the perspective of most people who know Edwards well, including former legal associates and estranged friends who now loathe him, Bergenfield says: “The case is ridiculous. . . . It’s exploiting personal mistakes he’s made.”
At a hearing in Greensboro on the last Monday in March, the defense reminded observers of a key component of its strategy: destroy the credibility of Andrew Young, Edwards’s former personal aide, who is slated to be a key prosecution witness.
It was a largely uneventful morning. Edwards had chosen to stay home, and the courtroom crowd was sparse. Afterward, someone asked another defense attorney, Alan Duncan, about the state of mind of the man on Old Greensboro Road. Duncan inhaled and said tersely, “He’s taking care of his children. Thanks, y’all.”
Hard to ‘make sense of it’
Edwards’s mood, friends note, brightens with the presence of family members and loyalists. Last year, he spent considerable time with his oldest child, Cate, a Harvard Law School graduate, as her wedding approached. When Bergenfield visited, the two men brought Emma Claire and Jack to a packed restaurant for hamburgers. They had to wait for a table. Other diners stared. “It was fine,” Bergenfield recalls, adding: “I’ve personally never seen a problem.” He ponders whether he has noticed any difference in the way strangers act now around his friend. “He’s not treated special or different,” Bergenfield says. “It’s fine.”
Edwards has tried to help Jack’s baseball teams in recent years by doing some coaching, Bergenfield says. And last spring, the two men went to watch Emma Claire play in a softball game at the Durham Academy, where she attends school. “John was just another parent watching the game,” Bergenfield recounts. “Afterward, he was just standing there by himself. Emma grabbed his arm and said, ‘Dad, we gotta get in line and sign up.’ It was like juice-box sign-up or something; every parent had to bring juice boxes. John just got in line.”
Bergenfield doesn’t know everything, he says. He acknowledges that Edwards maintains contact with Hunter for the sake of seeing their daughter, among other things — but adds that he knows little else beyond the fact that she lives a couple of hours away, in North Carolina. Edwards “wants to always be there for Quinn,” he says. “Anything beyond that, I’d be guessing.”
Asked what accounted for the depth of his friend’s fall, Bergenfield says he has yet to understand it. “Within our greatest traits are the seeds of our undoing at times,” he says. “There is a connection between John’s great gifts and the great problems he has now. He thought that he could do anything, and some of these things were selfish things. . . . It’s hard even for John to make sense of it.”