John Edwards Trial: Witness Says Money Earmarked to Hide Mistress Was 'For His Benefit'


Some important government witnesses still to come include Wendy Button, a former Edwards' speechwriter who is expected to testify that Edwards told her in 2009 that he had known about at least some of the money from the start but that he didn't believe it was illegal.

Button had been working with Edwards on a statement that he was considering making in the summer of 2009, after it was reported that Young was writing a book.

That statement was never issued. Edwards finally acknowledged paternity of Hunter's child in January 2010, just a few days before the publication of Young's book.

The defense has been signaling throughout the trial that it will be coming at Button forcefully, portraying her as vengeful and obsessed with the investigation into Edwards affair.

Jennifer Palmieri, who was commutations director for Edwards in the '04 race and remained a close adviser to both John and Elizabeth Edwards, could be called later in the week. She is now on the communications staff of the Obama administration.

Palmieri could shed more light on what Elizabeth Edwards knew about the affair and pregnancy and when she knew it. Palmieri was among the Edwards' advisers who helped arrange John Edwards' Nightline interview with Bob Woodruff in August of 2008 - during which Edwards admitted to a short affair with Hunter but denied paternity and disavowed any knowledge of alleged hush money payments by Fred Baron.

Prosecutors may also quiz Palmieri about an argument she allegedly witnessed in 2007, in which Elizabeth Edwards was fuming at Fred and Lisa Baron over their friendship with Hunter.

John Edwards was present for this conversation, according to a pre-trial motion filed by the government.

Also expected on the prosecution's list is Wade Smith, the dean of the North Carolina bar who at one time was defending Edwards, but withdrew when it became clear the government was going to call him to testify about his conversation with Forger.

As for Hunter, it seems possible the prosecution may not call her at all, even though she is on their witness list. The government may be concerned that Hunter will distract the jury from their case and could do further damage to the credibility of their beleaguered star witness, Andrew Young. And they may be figuring that they'd be better off dealing with her in cross examination rather than direct.

In anticipation of Hunter's testimony and that of Edwards' daughter Cate, Eagles has created an overflow room for spectators and reporters.

The cramped first floor courtroom will surely be too small to handle the crush of media and curiosity seekers.

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