Former John Edwards' aide Andrew Young gives his account of the sex scandal and the elaborate cover-up for the Democratic presidential candidate in a new book, "The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal that Brought Him Down."
When Mrs. Edwards left Chapel Hill to start her book tour, the senator brought Rielle to his home, where she met Jack and Emma Claire and even interviewed them briefly while holding a video camera to capture their replies. (She also interviewed Edwards's parents, who were there that afternoon.) When I went to the house to see him, I discovered her sitting in the living room curled up in a chair like a cat, with her shoes and socks off. She wore blue jeans and had a colorful scarf around her neck and sunglasses perched atop her head.
The mood in the house was relaxed and upbeat. Instead of the news blaring out of various TVs, which Elizabeth kept tuned to C-SPAN. I heard music playing. I noticed because the senator had told me he had stopped listening to music when Wade died, and I had seen him turn off music whenever it was playing. We went on a run together, following our usual route past a cow pasture full of mooing heifers and waving to neighbors who hailed us from their front porches. While we were gone, Rielle napped in Cate's room.
That evening, we ate take-out ribs from a place called Nantucket Grill and sat on the senator's back porch, a huge space covered by a sturdy roof. The group included me, the nanny, Heather, and her husband, Jed, the senator, his kids, and Rielle, who talked excitedly about everything from national politics to astrology. She said she had been a spiritual teacher and that she believed the future was foretold by the stars. Rielle took great pleasure in noting that John Edwards's future was limitless, and every once in a while she punctuated her observations about him with a laugh and the line "It's good to be king."
As the wine flowed and Heather put the kids to bed, the senator and Rielle became more comfortable touching each other and dropped the pretense that they weren't involved. At one point, they started musing about how the house seemed like a happy place with Elizabeth and her "negative energy" removed. Rielle talked about living in the mansion once Mrs. Edwards was out of the way. A new family would be formed, the senator said, after he and Rielle married on some rooftop in Manhattan with a celebration that would include music from Dave Matthews. As Rielle listened to the senator spin this fantasy, she smiled like a little kid who had gotten her way.
As the night wore on, clouds rolled in, followed by thunder and lightning and the heaviest rain I had ever seen. Protected and dry under the roof, we watched the water come down in sheets, and in a quiet moment the senator said, "This is the way it should be -- no stress, no fighting."
"It's good to be king," said Rielle.
I left the house during the downpour, shaken by everything I had seen and heard. As I turned the key in my Suburban and flipped on the wipers, my once-bright future seemed to be in peril.
The next time I spoke to Rielle, she happily told me that she had spent that night in the Edwardses' bed and slept in while the senator made breakfast for the kids and then drove them to school. She said that when he returned, he got into bed and they "made love."