The John Edwards trial continues. When we last left our disgraced politician and the various accounts of whether he'd knowingly or unknowingly broken campaign finance laws, we were considering the women in the story, particularly with last week's news that Elizabeth Edwards had confronted her husband dramatically over his continued affair with Rielle Hunter. Today there's more, though this has to do with the finances themselves rather than the side story (mostly). Not to worry, it's still juicy: Weeks before John Edwards was indicted for allegedly using $725,000 he'd received from Bunny Mellon to hide his affair with Rielle Hunter, Edwards had asked Mellon for even more money "to get him established," Mellon's librarian Tony Willis testified Monday. Or, as The Associated Press' Michael Biesecker reports, "to help him launch the next phase of his life." How much would that require? $3 million, to be specific, reports ABC News.
Mellon said no, that "she couldn't provide the money," testified Willis, to whom Mellon had dictated the letter responding to Edwards' request. This letter, Willis says, was never sent at the request of one of Mellon's lawyers. But the jury didn't hear about it either, because the Edwards defense objected to it being included as evidence, and the jury was sent from the room while the judge heard Willis' testimony. "The judge upheld the objection and the jury was brought back after discussions of the letter had ended," according to ABC's James Hill, Beth Loyd, and Russell Goldman.
The prosecution considers the letter proof that Edwards absolutely knew about the $725,000 he'd gotten from Mellon and that he willfully asked her for more. Meanwhile, the Edwards side continues to argue that the money was requested by Andrew Young, former Edwards aide, who they claim was taking the money for himself to build his dream home; they also say the letter came "years after the presidential campaign and the existence of his relationship with Rielle Hunter and their baby was acknowledged, and after Mellon had been questioned by the FBI."
Adding further support to the Edwards' side, Mellon's lawyer Alex Forger said that he thought the money donated by his client had been "a friendly gift and not as a political contribution," causing Edwards to whisper to his daughter Cate that it had been "a good morning for the home team." If Mellon was just giving Edwards the money because she liked him (and there's testimony that she did, as did, for some reason, everyone) as a personal gift, campaign finance laws, and the potential 30 years in jail if convicted, would not apply.