Former aide Andrew Young, the star witness in the trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards, began his testimony against his former boss Monday.
Edwards is accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars from 101-year-old Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Fred Baron to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter.
Young, testifying as the first witness Monday, said Mellon was an enthusiastic supporter who apologized for not being able to give more than $1 million.
“She said she was close personal friends with Senators John and Bobby Kennedy and felt like Edwards was the best combination of them,” Young testified.
Prosecutors say Edwards broke federal law by accepting about $725,000 from Mellon and more than $200,000 from Fred Baron, a now-deceased Texas lawyer.
The money was used to pay for Rielle Hunter’s living and medical expenses, travel and accommodations to quash the scandal while he sought the presidency.
Edwards is accused of concealing the money from the public and the Federal Election Commission, which polices political contributions, in the 2008 campaign.
The defense argues the money he received from Mellon and Baron was for personal reasons – to protect Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.
Basically, he says he did it to hide his cheating from his family, and that the donors would have given the money regardless of these rare circumstances.
Of course, by concealing it from his family, he also hid it from the public, and made a serious run at the White House in the process.
Needless to say, the John Edwards trial represents a murky legal gray area.
Young, who is married, initially claimed he was the father of Hunter’s child.
He went on to become the author of The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down.
In the book, he accuses Edwards of using money from his rich benefactors to maintain his relationship with Hunter, breaking the law in the process.
Edwards admitted to his affair with Hunter in 2008, after his presidential ambitions foundered. In 2010, he admitted he was the father of Hunter’s daughter.