As defense testimony began in the former presidential candidate's Greensboro, N.C., trial on six counts of campaign finance violations, Harrison Hickman, the campaign's pollster, said Elizabeth Edwards called the shots and encouraged her husband to move forward with his bid for the Democratic nomination even after she learned of his affair with videographer Rielle Hunter, ABC News reported.
"I don't mean to say this in a disparaging way. It was volcanic. ... She could get upset about things, but she was really upset about this," Hickman testified.
"She kept saying, 'I don't want to be humiliated. I don't want my kids to have to deal with this,'" Hickman said, adding the candidate "did everything he could to placate Mrs. Edwards. ... He acquiesced to Elizabeth Edwards making decisions. ... She took the lead and he deferred to her. …
"She said she didn't want to sit home and die. She wanted her life to have a purpose. ... She wanted to keep it going and get him elected president," Hickman told jurors, ABC said.
Edwards' campaign chief testified earlier Monday U.S. Federal Election Commission officers determined hush money did not need to be reported.
Lora Haggard, Edwards' 2008 campaign chief financial officer, said FEC auditors determined, after reviewing the campaign's financial records of four years, that funds collected from wealthy donors were not campaign contributions but personal gifts.
Much of Haggard's testimony came with the jury outside the courtroom as U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Eagles determined if the testimony was admissible, ABC News reported Monday.
"Whatever the FEC determined is not relevant to the criminal charges," said prosecutor Jeffrey Tsai.
"The charges against John Edwards in this case flow from his knowing and willful violation of the federal campaign finance laws during his campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for president," prosecutors alleged in court filings.
Edwards' defense team contends the money from benefactors Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a 101-year-old Virginia banking heiress, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer, were not political contributions but personal gifts intended only to keep Elizabeth Edwards from finding out about the continuation of his affair with Rielle Hunter, which he had told his wife was over, and to hide that a child was involved.