National News

John, Elizabeth Edwards separate

Posted January 26, 2010
Updated January 27, 2010

— Two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife of more than 30 years, Elizabeth, have separated, a family friend said Wednesday.

Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, issued a statement late Wednesday, calling the separation "an extraordinarily sad moment."

"I love my children more than anything and still care deeply about Elizabeth,” he said.

The separation comes as details of John Edwards' affair with former campaign staffer leak out in advance of a tell-all book by longtime aide Andrew Young.

Young says in his book that Edwards told him he thought about leaving his wife but also cited his love for her as a reason to keep details of an affair hidden, according to The Wall Street Journal .

The Journal reported on its Web site that Andrew Young says Edwards asked him to go into hiding with Edwards' mistress, in part because of Elizabeth Edwards' health.

Young's book, "The Politician," is not due out until Saturday, but the The Wall Street Journal said it purchased a copy Monday at a Washington-area book store.

Elizabeth Edwards released a statement through her publisher, Random House, that said she "is moving on with her life and wants to put this difficult chapter behind her. It was an excruciatingly painful period for her, and she no interest in rehashing the past."

Young wrote that John Edwards concluded "that if I helped him, I would make Mrs. Edwards' dying days a bit easier. 'I know you're mad at her, Andrew, but I love her. I can't let her die knowing this.'"

Elizabeth Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and after a brief remission, the cancer returned in an incurable form in 2007.

John Edwards acknowledged for the first time last week that he fathered a child with Rielle Hunter.

Elizabeth Edwards believed Young fathered Hunter's child until John Edwards confessed to her last summer that he was the father, according to the statement issued by Random House.

Young's book says Hunter visited the Edwards' home and played with his two young children while Elizabeth Edwards was on a book tour. John Edwards promised to marry Hunter, a videographer hired by the campaign to produce promotional videos, and that the Dave Matthews Band would play at their wedding reception.

Two wealthy Edwards supporters, Texas attorney Fred Baron and Virginia heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, provided money to Hunter, according to the book. Baron, who died of cancer in 2008, was finance chairman for the Edwards campaign.

A federal grand jury has been investigating for months to determine whether campaign funds were used to hide the affair. Both Young and Hunter – she had her young daughter in tow – have appeared at the federal courthouse in Raleigh on days when the grand jury was meeting.

Young provides an unflattering portrait of Edwards, talking about his obsession with campaign donations, his fixation with his hair, his disapproval of "fat rednecks" at state fairs and the lengths he went to to hide the affair, including trying to get Young to persuade Hunter to have an abortion.

Young has said in excerpts of an ABC News interview that Edwards asked him to find a doctor to fake a paternity test and to steal a diaper from the baby to secretly do a DNA test.

The book describes Young's discovery of a videotape showing Edwards and a naked Hunter.

"It was like watching a traffic pileup occur in slow motion – it was repelling but also transfixing," he writes, according to the Journal.

Elizabeth Edwards said in the Random House statement that the book contains "many falsehoods and exaggerations," and she called Young's contention in the book that she tried to politicize her cancer "unconscionable, hurtful and patently false."

Young lives on a secluded estate in Orange County with his wife and three children.

Edwards has largely stayed secluded since first admitting the affair in August 2008. He spent part of last week in Haiti helping with relief efforts.


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  • luv my peeps Jan 29, 2010

    Dear John Edwards,
    Stop claiming you are trying to help people when all you are trying to do is get your name back in lights. You are a disappointment to the state of North Carolina and all the people that elected you. Maybe Haiti is a good place for you to go and STAY.

  • WRALcensorsforIslam Jan 28, 2010

    ncwebguy - are you serious? If so, are you sober? Johnny Edwards is above and beyond laughter because he fought the menace of uncovered pool drains? Because he bamboozled a jury of 12 fools into giving his clients multi-million dollar awards from doctors because their kid was born with a genetic defect he blamed on a "lack of oxygen" during delivery? Really? That guy is standing on the ground where you want to put your partisan flag? Uh-huh, gotcha. I guess some folks will man the barricades for anyone as long as they're in the right political party. Nixon would've been okay had he been a donkey then I guess.

  • odell Jan 28, 2010

    Edwards siting - He was just in a Harris Teeters in Chapel Hill.

  • itsmyownopinion Jan 28, 2010

    Regardless of whatever else can be said about John Edwards, he was a good attorney, and I'm sure his clients appreciated what he won for them, and, believe it or not, he was chosen by some of his clients because he worked for less than others. It's too bad he threw it all away, and I'm sorry for Elizabeth and his children. He's not the first, nor will he be the last. It's human failure, and the weakness exists in all of us. :(

  • ncwebguy Jan 28, 2010

    Mark Sandford is still the govenor of South Carolina, right? Yes, yes he is.

    He lied about using state taxpayer resources to facilitate his tryst, right? Yes, yes he did.

    Where is the outrage for that? Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.

    The less said about Larry Craig, the better.

    Ms. Edwards struggle against cancer is bad enough, and to add this is even worse.

    Without John Edwards's work, pool drains would continue to go uncovered, ruining children's lives. Doctors would countinue to be held unaccountable for their actions in surgery.

    It is sad that some people (including the GOP "leadership") wants to remove accountability from health care, insurance, financial markets, etc. in the name of the same "deregulation" that has created bubble after bubble after disaster.

  • Rasied right Jan 28, 2010

    There Is a Law in the State of North Carolina, That you can Sue the person responsible for breaking up your marriage.

  • SWEET-N-SOUR Jan 28, 2010

    Sorry typo: These women should not be able to profit a penny from their affairs.

  • Rasied right Jan 28, 2010

    There Is a Law in the State of North Carolina, That you can Sue the person responsible for breaking up your marriage. In this case that person would be the (Mistress).. John paying the (mistress)child support, AND the MISTRESS would be paying ....( MRS.JOHN EDWARDS)

  • itsmyownopinion Jan 28, 2010

    He's not on the streets, jr, he's in the barn/annex to their home in Chapel Hill and/or at their beach home, or who knows where, but he's not house hunting for himself.

  • jrfergerson Jan 28, 2010