Local Politics

Defense questions wife about ex-Edwards aide's truthfulness

Posted May 1, 2012

— A day after sobbing during her testimony and succumbing to a migraine, the wife of former John Edwards aide Andrew Young was back on the witness stand Tuesday, displaying a tougher side as she faced cross-examination.

Cheri Young evaded some defense questions and refused to give in on others as Edwards' lawyers tried again to undermine her husband's credibility with jurors.

Edwards is charged with conspiracy, filing false campaign reports and four counts of accepting illegal campaign contributions in connection with the nearly $1 million that two donors secretly paid in 2007-08 to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he ran for the White House.

Andrew Young spent most of last week testifying about Edwards' involvement with the secret payments, but the defense repeatedly pointed out inconsistencies in his testimony when compared with passages of his tell-all book, "The Politician," interviews he has given and his grand jury testimony three years ago.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Alan Duncan questioned Cheri Young about her husband's truthfulness, suggesting that she once told someone that Andrew Young is such an accomplished liar that even she cannot tell whether he's telling the truth or not. She said she couldn't recall ever saying that.

John Edwards case graphic WRAL.com archive: John Edwards case

"Has Mr. Young ever lied to you?" Duncan asked.

"We've had arguments and disagreements," she stammered. "I don't know. I don't know."

The questioning irritated U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles at one point when Duncan continued asking Cheri Young about details of her husband's drunken driving arrest in 2006.

"She's now said twice she doesn't know about it, so move on," Eagles chided Duncan.

Duncan also attacked the Youngs' memories, saying that Cheri Young's migraines affect her recollections and that her husband drank a lot in 2006-07 and sometimes takes the sleep-aid Ambien, which makes him "loopy."

Both Andrew and Cheri Young have testified that Edwards was aware of the secret payments – Cheri Young said he even ordered them on the phone to "get the money in" – and assured them that they were legal. They also said Edwards hatched the plan to have Andrew Young claim to be the father of Hunter's baby to keep media inquiries about an extramarital affair from sinking his campaign.

Cheri Young testified Monday that catering to the needs of Edwards and his family occupied much of her husband's time for the several years that he worked for Edwards. Duncan suggested Tuesday that having "a third person in your marriage" made her angry at Edwards.

Cheri Young entering courthouse Wife of former Edwards aide undergoes cross-examination

"What was frustrating to me was that I was lonely, exhausted and felt isolated, but this is the way I wanted my marriage to be," she said. "I wanted my husband to do what he believed in. I wanted Mr. Edwards to do what he believe in. But I was OK."

Andrew Young acknowledged under cross-examination last week that some of the money meant to hide Hunter was spent on a home he and his wife were building in Chapel Hill and other family expenses.

Duncan asked Cheri Young about the checks from Virginia heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon that she cashed and deposited into the family's bank account.

"We took in a lot of money to care for this issue," Cheri Young said, referring to Hunter.

She earlier told prosecutors that the family's tax returns show that they were "a conduit" for money from Mellon to Hunter.

The defense played a 13-minute video for jurors that Cheri Young took inside a home the Youngs had rented for Hunter in the gated Governor's Club development in Chatham County. She insisted that said she had to make the video to document how she and her husband had spent thousands of dollars in Mellon's money on furnishings for Hunter.

"This was proof there was a Rielle Hunter that I was taking care of," she said.

Yet, much of the video was of photos spread out on a kitchen counter that showed Hunter as a little girl riding horses and at her wedding, her driver's license and even a note where she had scribbled down possible names for her illegitimate child with Edwards.

"You have a real economic interest in how this case turns out," Duncan said, citing sales of Andrew Young's book and plans for a movie based on it.

"The focus for me is learning from my mistakes and being a better wife and mother for my children. It doesn’t matter to me anything with this case," Cheri Young said. "The only reason my husband had to write a book is because Mr. Edwards did not come forward and tell the truth. We waited from 2007 until January 2010, and he did not admit paternity until a week, maybe two weeks, before the book came out."


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  • dennis23 May 2, 2012

    I think Tom Cruise should play Edwards in the movie. He is or is very good at acting arrogant. Letterman should do his famous top ten list on the Top Ten things the Youngs did for John Edwards and Rielle Hunter that they didn't want to do but did anyway just for kicks.

  • bombayrunner May 2, 2012

    she didnt create this situation ... John's sex life did.

  • wildpig777 May 2, 2012

    She only separated from John after it was obvious that John had no political future left.

    conserve -- you absolutely correct, liza beth edwards was in it all up to her brows.......... i see this as nc democrat poitics as usual--- so many have been put in prison for yrs that the party is simply - corrupt.

  • Objective Scientist May 2, 2012

    ConservativeVoter - May 2, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    Agree! No conspiracy! Some people have a "hair-trigger" and see a conspiracy in EVERYTHING!

    I am a very INDEPENDENT voter.

  • poohpdoo2002 May 2, 2012

    Looks to me like Andrew Young was the one who did all the backroom deals and accepted all the money. There is no proof that Edwards knew or knew how much. Even with all the little notes that he kept, and voice mails, and text message, etc., Edwards was very careful to not say anything or do anything to implicate himself.

  • usko May 2, 2012

    Politicians = liars, thieves, scondrels, self-serving parasites

  • Ambygirl May 2, 2012

    There are far and few politicians that are truly for what the people want instead of what they want. I haven't seen on person in office from the top all the way down in this day and time that are actually looking after the interests of the common people of this country. This is a prime example right here. It's all about the power and the money, not about what is truly good for the peopel of this country.

  • ConservativeVoter May 2, 2012

    This is what's wrong with our country.

    This trial shows the sleaze that run for public office along with the parasites who cling onto the sleaze hoping to benefit from gifts from the sleaze and their supporters.

    Our country would be a different place if our politicians weren't self serving sleaze who were only running to benefit themselves and their friends.

    It would be nice to have politicians who were concerned about the overall good of the country and not just themselves and their friends.

  • ConservativeVoter May 2, 2012

    Everyone feels sorry for Elizabeth Edwards because John Edwards fooled around on her.

    They forget that she appeared with John and campaigned for him after finding out about his mistress and most likely the baby.

    She was in it for the power of the White House much like Hillary Clinton was.

    She only separated from John after it was obvious that John had no political future left.

  • ConservativeVoter May 2, 2012

    "you folks oughta be contacting politicans and demanding why young was given immunity.. would have been rather EASY to get felony convictions of both he an edwards-- so why the immunity? i keep telling yall == THERE IS A CONSPIRACY GOING ON HERE.

    Immunity is often given in cases like this because law enforcement wants the big fish "John Edwards" and needs for the smaller fish to turn on the big fish to get a conviction.

    They aren't concerned about John's employees who did what he asked them to do.

    There is no conspiracy. Edwards either broke campaign finance laws by using donation to pay for them taking care of his pregnant mistress, or he broke IRS gift tax laws by not reporting the gifts from Bunny Melon and Baron.

    Either way he broke federal laws.