Edwards daughter tearfully leaves courtroom
GREENSBORO, N.C. — The trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards took a dramatic turn Wednesday when his daughter abruptly left the courtroom during testimony about a fight between her mother and father over his affair with a campaign videographer.
Cate Edwards left during the testimony of Christina Reynolds, former research director for Edwards’ 2008 campaign.
Reynolds was recounting an October 2007 confrontation between Elizabeth and John Edwards at the Raleigh, North Carolina, airport after the National Enquirer reported the candidate was having an affair with Rielle Hunter.
Elizabeth Edwards, a breast cancer patient, tore at her clothing, exposing her chest, the witness said.
“You don’t see me anymore,” Reynolds quoted the wife as saying.
As Reynolds described the incident in the airport hangar, John Edwards covered his face with his hands. He then looked back at his daughter and said, “I don’t know what’s coming … do you want to leave?”
Cate Edwards said something back, stood and left the courtroom. Some in the courtroom reported seeing her wiping tears in her eyes as she left. She returned to her seat behind her father after a court recess.
Elizabeth Edwards died of breast cancer in December 2010.
Prosecutors say donations to pay his mistress’s expenses were illegal and a chief reason John Edwards is on trial in federal court on six felony counts. Also charged with conspiracy and making false statements, Edwards could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Edwards is accused of using false and misleading campaign disclosure reports to conceal from the Federal Election Commission more than $900,000 in donations — $725,000 from Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and $200,000 from the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron.
Also Wednesday, a former Edwards staffer testified about his travels with Edwards in 2006, before the latter announced his candidacy.
Josh Brumberger said he told Edwards that Hunter seemed a “little nutty” and her video work was “shoddy and unprofessional.”
Edwards insisted Hunter should receive health insurance, even though she was a consultant, Brumberger said. The former aide also said he told Edwards that the staff was noticing he was treating Hunter differently than he did others, such as carrying her bags.
It all came to a head at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in October 2006. A red-faced and cursing Edwards, who was bound for China, pulled him to the side, Brumberger testified.
Edwards said that “if I thought he was (blanking) her, why didn’t I come to him like a man and ask,” said Brumberger. “He said he didn’t trust me anymore. He was basically firing me.”
On cross-examination, Brumberger said all of those incidents occurred before the presidential campaign.
Edwards eventually admitted to having carried on an affair with Hunter and fathering her child.
Credit: Joe Johns, CNN. CNN’s Ted Metzger contributed to this report.