Testimony links Edwards to cover-up

May 8, 2012 at 8:14 AM
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GREENSBORO, N.C., May 8 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., was in the thick of efforts to hide an affair that began before the 2008 presidential campaign, a supporter said.

Chapel Hill, N.C., builder Tim Toben testified Monday Edwards knew details of the effort to conceal his liaison with Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy from the media as he was campaigning, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported.

Edwards is accused of conspiring to secretly get more than $900,000 from two supporters to hide his affair with Hunter and her pregnancy. He pleaded not guilty to six charges related to violations of federal campaign finance laws. The trial is in federal court in Greensboro.

Toben's testimony "puts Edwards back in the middle of the cover-up plot, back in the middle of things," Hampton Dellinger, a Raleigh-area lawyer and trial analyst, told the newspaper.

However, Dellinger said, Toben's testimony didn't "speak to [Edwards'] criminal intent."

Among other things, Toben testified about his role in getting Hunter, pregnant with Edwards' child, to a private jet at Raleigh-Durham Airport in late December 2007 and about a phone call from Edwards after the episode.

"He said he wanted to thank me and would never forget what I had done for him," Toben testified.

Also testifying was Alex Forger, an attorney who helped oversee the finances of Edwards backer Bunny Mellon, 101, The News & Observer said. Mellon was one of the contributors whose funds Edwards is accused of using to hide his affair with Hunter.

Forger said Mellon was interested in Edwards because she "liked him as a person."

"If he wanted to be president of Duke University, she would have supported that," Forger said. "She wasn't interested in being named secretary of state or ambassador …"

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