Things are not going well for the ex- senator. His former aide, Andrew Young, has testified as predicted. He, at Edward's urging, received monies which he used to cover up an affair with a woman who gave birth to Edward's child. He even falsely claimed paternity and siphoned off over a million bucks for himself and his wife, Cheri. He put out this lie at Edward's urging, a convincing pitch that the country's welfare would be ill-served were his presidential campaign to be derailed. He has received full immunity from his admitted wrongdoings and has hugely profited from a tell-all just published book. He is the classic rat-fink and the ultimate stereotype of the squealer. Foreseeably, he was savaged by withering defense counsel cross-examination and I doubt that his testimony, alone, can be the basis of conviction. It does not have to be. Reinforcement followed him to the stand in the person of his wife, who might very well be the most sympathetic player in this entire sordid mess. Media accounts, unreliable to be sure, are, nonetheless, all I have to go on, but Cheri Young seems to have hit it out of the park, adorned with the mantle of the ultimate victim. Her tears were legit, as was her narrative, as she highlighted the alleged sins of the man with presidential ambitions. Her obvious pain bolstered her believability which seemed to carom from the witness stand to the jury box.
On direct examination, having related that Edwards referred to the coverup scheme "as if it was for the good of the country", she was asked why she went along with it.
When a witness is asked a "why" question on direct, the answer must have certainly been carefully prepared. No room for error can be tolerated.
Young put her hands together, pressed them to her her chin, and bowed her head as if in prayer. The judge dismissed the jury to give her time to compose herself. About 25 feet away, Edwards sat back in his chair and put two fingers to his pursed lips. As Young dabbed her tears with a tissue, he glanced at his watch.
If the Associated Press reporter (Michael Biesecker) saw it, so did the jury.
Was he timing her "act" or merely displaying impatience with her story? Either theory is inconsistent with a sympathetic defendant. Not a cool move for an experienced trial lawyer.
Once the jury returned, Young answered the question. "I felt like everything had been dumped in my lap.....everybody was on board but me.....I ultimately decided to live with a lie."
On cross-examination, it was asserted that she had an incentive to lie about Edwards. She did not hesitate in her response. "It was a lie when we accepted paternity for your client and that is why we are here today." Bang!
After acknowledging that she and her husband kept money for themselves and made even more from Andrew Young's book about Edward's affair, she reiterated that it was the ex-senator's lies that prompted them to go public. Edwards had allegedly promised to admit the baby was his after his mistress gave birth, but instead went on national television to deny being involved with another woman. Her testimony smacked of truth.
Edward's dilemma is that he is basing his defense on a point of law: his handling of monies received did not technically violate the federal statute governing the receipt of funds during a campaign, and that the dollars in question were gifts rather than contributions, and therefore legal. This may very well be true and would constitute a valid defense. The problem: if the jury doesn't like him, can they set this aside and resolve the case on a legal question?
Juries. The quintessence of unpredictability. Emotions versus stoic reasoning.
Edwards should consider taking the stand in his own defense and bare his soul under a public flogging. To self-administer such merciless punishment could serve as the basis of redemption and fertilize the ground for some degree of forgiveness. This once earned, the atmosphere for considering the case on legal grounds might be significantly enhanced.
Being a scoundrel while not violating a statute is not an inconsistent proposition.
It is, however, a tough sell.
Edwards must bleed in public view.