On the first day of John Edwards criminal trial the presiding judge revealed that the prosecution's star witness had a one night stand with another witness in 2007.
U.S District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles said that former Edwards aide Andrew Young slept with a young campaign employee and also contacted three other witnesses in the past two weeks to consult with them about their planned testimony.
Calling into question the credibility of the key prosecution witness, Young had agreed to testify against his former boss in the hope that he will avoid prosecution himself in the fallout from the trial of almost $ 1 million of misappropriated campaign funds by Edwards.
Former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John Edwards arrives outside federal court in Greensboro, N.C., Monday, April 23, 2012. for his trial on charges of violating federal campaign finance laws
The judge ruled that lawyers for Edwards could mention the improper contact to jurors in opening arguments Monday, but barred them from using the term 'witness tampering' or telling the jury that Young had a one-night stand with one of the other witnesses in 2007.
The former aide is potentially the government's most important witness as prosecutors seek to prove the then-married Democratic candidate masterminded a scheme to use nearly $ 1 million provided by two wealthy campaign donors to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008.
Young once falsely claimed paternity of the child Edwards fathered with his then-mistress Rielle Hunter in 2007.
Edwards, 58, has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to alleged violations of federal campaign finance laws.
Violation of federal law: Andrew Young pictured with his wife Cheri contacted three witnesses in the John Edwards criminal trial to ask about their possible testimony said the judge in the trial today
The former candidate sat silently in the courtroom Monday morning as the lead federal prosecutor called him a man who would say or do anything to get elected president, including violating the law to hide his affair and keep his campaign viable.
'It wasn't just a marriage on the line,' said prosecutor David Harbach.
'If the affair went public it would destroy his chance of becoming president, and he knew it. ...He made a choice to break the law.'
The judge seated 12 jurors and four alternates Monday morning.
The panel is made up of nine men and seven women drawn from central North Carolina, the state that elected Edwards to serve one term in the U.S. Senate.
Former U.S. Sen. and presidential candidate John Edwards arrives at federal court. Prosecutors and defense lawyers will begin making their case to jurors on whether the former presidential candidate violated federal campaign finance laws
A defense lawyer for Edwards told the jury that most of the money at issue in the case went not to support Hunter, but was siphoned off by Young and his wife to build a $ 1.5 million 'dream home' near Chapel Hill.
Former candidate Edwards' lawyers contend the payments were gifts from friends intent on keeping the candidate's wife from finding out about the affair.
Tragically, Elizabeth Edwards died in December 2010 after battling cancer.
A key issue will be whether Edwards knew about the payments made on his behalf by his national campaign finance chairman, the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and campaign donor Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a now-101-year-old heiress and socialite.
Andrew Young, former campaign aide to former U.S. Sen. John Edwards enters the Federal Courthouse for opening day of Edwards' criminal trial on April 23, 2012 in Greensboro
Each had already given Edwards' campaign the maximum $ 2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.
Edwards denies having known about the money, which paid for private jets, luxury hotels and Hunter's medical care. Prosecutors will seek to prove he sought and directed the payments to cover up his affair, protect his public image as a 'family man' and keep his presidential hopes viable.
It is alleged as part of this, Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later embarked with her on a cross-country odyssey as they sought to elude tabloid reporters trying to expose the candidate's extramarital affair.
Former aide Young later fell out with Edwards and wrote an unflattering tell-all book, 'The Politician.'
Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards enters the Federal Courthouse for opening day of his criminal trial. The once Democratic presidential candidate, Edwards is expected to plead not guilty to six counts of campaign finance violations
And just recently, Young and Hunter ended a two-year legal battle over ownership of a sex tape the mistress recorded with Edwards during the campaign, agreeing to a settlement that dictates that copies of the video will be destroyed.
While Young is expected to be a witness for the prosecution, the defense is likely to call Hunter to testify.
Two of the lawyers who represented Hunter in her civil suit against the former aide joined Edwards' legal team last month.
After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in 2010.
The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte and is visited frequently by Edwards.
And despite rumours Edwards and Hunter were looking to get married, a recent sighting reported to the New York Post claims the one-time secret romance is no more.
Possible defence witness: Rielle Hunter, the former mistress of John Edwards, enters the federal courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina, Thursday, August 6, 2009 with the pair's child Frances Quinn Hunter
The old flames were seen eating together at Rooster's Wood Fire Kitchen in Charlotte where they often take their daughter Frances Quinn, four, and apparently looked far from a couple in love.
A staff member at the restaurant said: 'They didn't seem romantic. You would think that they were a married couple if you didn't know them. He sat across from her in a booth.'
Hunter's publicist Rosemarie Terenzio confirmed the couple see each other often but not romantically.
She told the Post: 'No, she wasn't ever engaged to him. They see each other often. They raise Quinn together and they do so extremely amicably.'
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